By Adam Martin
During UFC 199, a promotional trailer played for July’s blockbuster UFC 200 event which featured the fighters from the card’s three title fights. Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, Miesha Tate, and Amanda Nunes were all featured during the trailer. Then, at the very end, a familiar face flashed on the screen.
It was the face of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, who the UFC announced would return at UFC 200, and on Monday morning, Lesnar himself went on SportsCenter and told the world his return bout will come against one of the hardest-hitting heavyweights in the sport, Mark Hunt.
Although UFC 200 no longer features the rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz – that will happen at UFC 202 in August instead – even without that rematch, UFC 200 still looks like the most stacked card the promotion has ever put together. On paper, it’s arguably the best card in MMA history. Yes, it’s that good.
Just look at these prelims. Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum is a great fight that could headline any Fight Night event, but instead it’s part of UFC 200’s undercard. Ditto for the bantamweight rematch between the former champ TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao. Ditto for Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena, another really good fight. Then you have Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson in a battle of top-15 middleweights. There’s also a potential lightweight bloodbath between “Fight of the Night” bonus-seekers Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez. Two other lightweight vets who are known for exciting fights in Jim Miller and Takanori Gomi also meet on this card. And the last fight on the card is another lightweight matchup between Sage Northcutt and Enrique Marin. The only “unknown” fighter on the whole card is Marin; the rest of the fighters are known quantities, and many of them are downright superstars. From top to bottom, it’s amazing how much talent is on this card.
UFC 100 took place seven years ago and the card was excellent, with Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Georges St-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves, Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping, Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago, and Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher on it. But you compare that to UFC 200, and even without GSP on the card, it’s not even close. UFC 200 is the best card the UFC has ever created, and if you don’t like it, you simply don’t like MMA.
By the way, one fun fact: Three fighters who fought at UFC 100 are fighting at UFC 200: Jones, Lesnar, and Miller. Considering the turnaround of the UFC roster, it’s incredible that these men have lasted so long on the roster, but the fans are obviously very happy about that.
If it stays together, UFC 200 is going to be one of the can’t-miss sporting events of the summer. Now, let’s just pray no injuries happen.
UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes (formerly UFC 200: Cormier vs. Jones 2, UFC 200: Lesnar vs. Hunt) takes place on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.