It has been 8275 days since UFC 1. That equates to 362 events held at 122 different cities in 22 countries. The sport has grown exponentially, and that is largely due to the UFC – gone are the early days of no-holds-barred fighting – it is now one of the most heavily regulated sports out there, with a very safe track record.
Ever since day 1 the UFC has been the pinnacle of the sport, and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. If you didn’t think it was big business then think again. If you believe the rumours it is close to being sold for over $4 billion, which wouldn’t be bad financial business for the current owners Zuffa LLC who bought it for $2 million back in 2001.
Anyway that’s getting off track.
Next Saturday night / Sunday morning UFC 200 goes down in what will undoubtedly be the biggest event in UFC and MMA history. It is being held in the newly built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada, and has a hugely stacked fight card.
As of writing this there are 3 title bouts scheduled for this event – that in itself is a first.
The main event sees a battle for the Light Heavyweight Title as title holder Daniel Cormier put his belt on the line against Number 1 contender (and current Interim Champ) Jon Jones. They have both met before when Jones was champion, and Cormier was the undefeated challenger, however Jones walked away with a unanimous decision victory and the title in a very one sided fight, only to be stripped of the title 3 months later for violating the Athlete Code of Conduct Policy for a well publicised incident away from the sport.
In the year that Jones was gone his vacant title was picked up by Cormier. Upon his return a rematch was signed for UFC 197, only for Cormier to pull out of the fight injured. A match took place between Jones and the replacement Ovince St Preux, which saw Jones pick up the Interim Title, and set up this match in the main event.
It might never have been though. The original main event was scheduled to be a rematch between the hottest property in MMA the Irishman Conor McGregor and American Nate Diaz. The pair previously met earlier in the year at UFC 196. McGregor was expected to challenge UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos, but dos Anjos pulled out due to a broken foot only 11 days before the event. Diaz eventually replaced him and the bout was shifted to the welterweight division. Diaz won the fight via rear-naked choke in the second round. This set up a rematch for UFC 200, however in a massive turn of events McGregor announced his retirement from the sport after a falling out with UFC management. He has since retracted his retirement statement, but will no longer feature at UFC 200.
McGregor’s subsequent foray into different weight classes has left a gap in the weight class that he holds a title in (The Featherweight Division), and due to this an Interim Title fight has been scheduled for this event which sees Jose Aldo take on Frankie Edgar.
Now if you remember Aldo was the guy whom McGregor defeated in a mere 13 seconds to take the title from late last year, and it seems that his record of 25-1 before the McGregor fight has done enough to warrant him an immediate shot at the title.
Edgar is a former Lightweight Champion who has actually challenged Aldo for his Featherweight Title once before. They met back in February 2013 in a fight that Aldo won via unanimous decision, and that was given ‘Fight Of The Night’ honours.
The third title fight on the card sees the Women’s Bantamweight Title on the line as champion Miesha Tate defends her title against Amanda Nunes. This is the title formally held by Ronda Rousey, who has previously defended it against Tate in December 2013. Rousey successfully held onto the title until November 2015 when she lost in spectacular fashion to Holly Holm, whom subsequently lost it to Tate in her first title defense. Up against her will be the Brazilian Amanda Nunes who has won 5 of her previous 6 fights in the UFC.
Also at 200 we will see the return of the former Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. The hugely popular fighter who spent the vast majority of his career as a WWE wrestler, had a 7 fight spell in the UFC from 2008 to 2011 where he won the Heavyweight Title before a potentially life threatening disease curtailed his mma career. He steps back into the Octagon – in what appears to be a one-fight-deal - against the ‘Super Samoan’ kickboxer Mark Hunt.
Also on this stacked card we will see (barring any late withdrawls) the former Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez take on Travis Browne, former Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks tackle Kelvin Gastelum, former Bantamweight Champion T.J. Dillashaw fight Raphael Assuncao, as well as former women’s Bantamweight number 1 contender Cat Zingano up against Julianna Pena, and men’s former Lightweight number 1 contender Diego Sanchez taking on Joe Lauzon.
And rounding out the card we have Strikeforce and Dream title holder Gegard Mousasi taking on Thiago Santos, Jim Miller locking horns with the Japanese legend Takanori Gomi, and rising star Sage Northcutt going one-on-one with Enrique Marin.
It is shaping up to be an unbelievable night of fights, which is also coinciding with the end of International fight week – there 2 other UFC events in the 2 days prior to UFC 200.
All events will be shown on BT Sport, and for further information please head on over to ufc.com
“Let's Get It On!”