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UFC 200 Review: The Dawn Of The Lioness Era

Ahead of the historic UFC 300 next weekend, Quintin van Jaarsveld looks back at the mixed martial arts leader’s second major milestone event, UFC 200.


Ahead of the historic UFC 300 next weekend, Quintin van Jaarsveld looks back at the mixed martial arts leader’s second major milestone event, UFC 200.

In the fight business, you have to be able to roll with the punches and the UFC brass had to do so in spades to save a seemingly cursed card back in 2016.

For what was the final event under the ownership of Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, the brothers and UFC president Dana White had to scramble to set up a suitable main event after their plans got blown up twice.

The highly anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz was originally slated to headline the event at the T-Mobile Arena on 9 July, but a squabble between “The Notorious” and the promotion resulted in it being pushed back to UFC 202.

The UFC booked the next big thing, another heated rematch and much-anticipated light heavyweight title unification bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Jones, however, was flagged for a doping violation three days before the event and just like that, the UFC was back to square one.

Ultimately, the already-booked bantamweight title match between champion Miesha Tate and challenger Amanda Nunes was elevated to the main event spot. Meanwhile, former WWE and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar came out of retirement to face knockout artist Mark Hunt in the co-headliner.

The UFC was able to keep Cormier on the card, finding a decorated opponent for the 205-pound champion in the form of the legendary Anderson Silva. The main card also featured an interim featherweight title fight between former champion Jose Aldo and former lightweight ruler Frankie Edgar and opened with a heavyweight tilt pitting former two-time champion Cain Velasquez against Travis Browne.

The event drew 1,009,000 pay-per-view buys, not quite as much as UFC 100 headlined by Lesnar back in 2009, however, it was a record-setting night in its own right as the $10,700,000 gate was the highest for a mixed martial arts event in the United States, while the 18,202-strong crowd was a record for Nevada.

A Sign Of Things To Come

Closing the show inside the Octagon, which had a unique look to it with a yellow canvas, women’s MMA pioneer Tate looked to make the first defence of her bantamweight belt against Nunes, a rising contender at the time.

Tate had won the title in epic fashion at UFC 196, choking Holly Holm unconscious in the final round, and sought to use her experience and world-class wrestling to neutralise her heavy-handed Brazilian opponent.

Instead, she ran into a buzzsaw as Nunes blasted her on the feet, leaving her a bloody mess before forcing her to tapout with a rare-naked choke inside the first round.

It was a statement win by “The Lioness”, the dawn of a new era as she went on to hold the belt for over five years, became the only female two-division champion in history and cemented her status as the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time.

Lesnar’s Erased Win

After five years away from MMA, Lesnar made his big return in a much-anticipated co-main event battle against hard-hitting Hunt.

Stylistically, it was a classic striker versus grappler match-up. Hunt, one of the most feared strikers in UFC history and the master of the walk-off knockout, would look to keep the fight standing, while Lesnar, a former NCAA Division I amateur wrestling champion, would aim to ground “The Super Samoan.” 

The freakishly big, strong and fast Lesnar, who’d headlined UFC 100 as heavyweight champion back in 2009, stuck to his strengths and had a big first round in which he took Hunt down and landed some heavy ground and pound.

Hunt, a former K1 Grand Prix winner, won a rather uneventful second round before “The Beast Incarnate” as he’s known in WWE, got his massive hands on the ex-UFC interim title contender again and outwrestled him in the third round to win by unanimous decision.

The victory, however, was later overturned to a no-contest after Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance during a post-fight screening.

Two Greats Tangle

With Jones out of the picture, Cormier still got a UFC 200 payday thanks to a game Silva stepping up on a couple of days’ notice.

Despite being one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, the odds were stacked against the former middleweight king, who along with not having had a training camp, moved up 20 pounds to face the light heavyweight champion.

Cormier, one of the greats in his own right, relied heavily on his size and Olympic-level wrestling to suffocate “The Spider” over all three rounds to win a clear-cut decision.

Silva performed admirably given the circumstances and did have some moments on the feet, but they were too few and far between. It might not have been the most exciting fight, but it was nevertheless a welcome clash of UFC legends.

Aldo Claims Interim Featherweight Gold

Aldo and Edgar found themselves in contrasting positions going into their interim featherweight title tilt.

Aldo’s world had come crashing down in his previous fight as overzealousness to shut up an ascending Conor McGregor saw him rush into a knockout blow just 13 seconds into his title defence at UFC 194. It was a superstar-making moment for McGregor, while it was Aldo’s first defeat in nearly a decade.

Edgar, on the other hand, entered on a five-fight win streak with his last loss dating back two years to his first battle against Aldo, which the Brazilian won on the scorecard.

History, as it turned out, repeated itself as Aldo was once again a step ahead of “The Answer” and got the nod from the judges after five rounds of exciting action.

Cain Clobbers Browne

In his prime, former two-time heavyweight champion Velasquez was close to an unstoppable force with his all-around arsenal and superhuman cardio.

However, injuries had started to mount up and he went into UFC 200 with over a year of inactivity following his title loss to Fabricio Werdum in June 2015. The question was, could he still go?

By virtue of winning five of his last seven fights, Browne was the one to welcome him back and looked to bag the biggest win of his career.

Instead, Velasquez made a triumphant return, knocking out “Hapa” in the first round for what proved to be his last win and penultimate appearance inside the Octagon.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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