UFC 100 was a landmark event for the Mixed Martial Art promotion’s history. Headlined by the grudge match between WWE Superstar turned killing machine Brock Lesnar, and his arch-rival former-champion Frank Mir, the card also featured George St. Pierre and the epic knockout of Michael Bisping by Dan Henderson. Yes, UFC 100 was something special to be remembered, but now MMA fans are looking toward another major moment in UFC history.
UFC 200 will take place in July, and from all accounts, should be one of the biggest events of all time, something to rival Pride’s Grand Prix tournament and UFC 100. However, how can Dana White and the promotion top those previously achieved heights by those cornerstone events? Easy. Book the following five main card fights. Chaos will ensure, blood will be shed, and easily the greatest card in MMA history will take place. Ladies and Gentlemen, my fantasy UFC 200.
Opening Main Card Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez
Two of the longest tenured veterans in the sport, Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez have been picking up post-fight bonus checks for the majority of their careers. Lauzon, who was recently the all time leader in “Of the Night” awards, was surpassed by Nate Diaz in his world-stopping win over Conor McGregor, and made his dissatisfaction known. His blood-soaked battles of attrition with Jim Miller and Jamie Varner are jump-out-your-seat level exciting, and Lauzon boasts and insane 24 stoppages in 25 professional wins. Sanchez is not far behind either on that list, and seems almost incapable of getting out of a fight not covered in blood. His wars with Clay Guida and Gilbert Melendez are both viable candidates for the best fights in UFC history, and his non-stop aggression and furious pace have made him a fan-favorite since winning the inaugural Ultimate Fighter tournament.
Sadly, due to the insane nature of their styles, the two have been slowing down considerably in their careers, and despite their relatively young ages, will likely both be nearing retirement. That said, the two men are monsters who have, amazingly, never met each other in the cage. Why not let them head into retirement as they want? Soaked in each other’s blood. This fight is legitimately a candidate for the greatest fight of all time, and without question a fight of the year candidate if it ever took place. Easily the best way to start such an epic night.
Main Card Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
Jose Aldo went from unquestioned pound-for-pound king to forgotten in 13 seconds. One blistering left hand from a brash Irishman sent the Brazilian born fighter out the door of champion, and back into the line of contenders. While he may want an immediate rematch, the path of destruction left by Frankie Edgar in the featherweight division is just too strong to deny, and Aldo will need to play contender for the first time in over a decade. That said, he can fast track his way to the top if the right fellow contender came along. Enter Max Holloway, a 24 year old Hawaiian prodigy who is already garnering hype as a future champion. A striking savant who has demonstrated great submissions and strong takedown defense, Holloway has bested his last 8 opponents, several of which are title contenders themselves, on his way to featherweight gold. In the UFC, his lone defeat in his past nine fights was a decision loss to Conor McGregor.
Aldo and Holloway are both elite level strikers, but the two have very different styles, making for an interesting stylistic matchup between two of the best in the game. The fight will likely only hit the mat once one of the two fighters knocks the other one there, and from there I don’t see it likely that either would make it back to their feet. Will Aldo reassert himself and remind us all why he was king? Or will the young gun force a passing of the torch on his own way to featherweight supremacy?
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez, Lightweight Title Fight
RDA has been about as dominant a champion as you can be. He crushed superstar Anthony Pettis to capture the gold. He destroyed the famously durable Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in highlight reel fashion to defend it. He smashed Nate Diaz for three grueling rounds and knocked out former lightweight champion Benson Henderson with a cracking right hook. Yes, Dos Anjos has been on a path of destruction in the lightweight division, and has come leaps and pounds from his knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens. Few men can compete with his world-class striking, intense grappling, furious cardio and relentless aggression. However, a former champion in his own right, the once Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has also been described with all those words.
While Alvarez has played it safe so far in his UFC tenure and used his wrestling and top game to win some decisions, his toughness is unquestioned, especially in defeating former Strikeforce champ and UFC title contender Gilbert Melendez with one eye swollen shut. And in his Bellator days? Forget about it. Alvarez was a terror. Insanely aggressive, with endless wind and a missile of a right hand, Alvarez smashed the competition to pieces before ultimately losing to Michael Chandler, and avenging that loss by winning the trilogy bouts against the gifted lightweight. Alvarez has the chin to stand with RDA, and the grappling to make it hard for him to impose his will. If the Eddie from Bellator shows up, as Alvarez has said he would, then we are into a fight for the ages.
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit II, Welterweight Title Fight
The last fight is already being regarded as one of the best of all time (funny how Lawler just keeps having the best fights of all time over and over) but the controversy around the decision merits a rematch between two of the UFC’s most violent fighters. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit batted back and forth to an intense split decision, in a fight that likely took years off of their respective lives.
Lawler smashed Condit with punches, Condit responded in-kind with everything but the kitchen sink, and the two remained on the feet in a war that seemed to be fought more by stubbornness than skill. No matter how hard one hit the other, they kept coming forward. In response, both fighters would get increasingly angry and just throw harder and harder and harder. Ultimately, Lawler would win the split-decision in spite of Condit landing more strikes, and since has stated he will only return to the cage for a rematch with Lawler. Why not give it to him? Over and over Condit has delivered highlight-reel stoppages and legendary fights, Lawler as well. These two seem made for one another, and with the incredible nature of the last fight, as well as the contested decision, let’s see it again to settle the score…or set up a trilogy.
Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar, Featherweight Title Fight
Conor McGregor finally tasted defeat. A stunning right hand and an ill-advised takedown were the makings of a disaster for the Irish superstar, as the Stockton-born Diaz slapped on a rear-naked choke and forced the tap. In the first round, McGregor looked to be on his way to another win, blasting the California brawler with left hands and bloodying Diaz’s face with horrifying precision. However, the taller and rangier Diaz, and his well-known iron jaw, took everything the Irishman could and gave it back…with a vengeance.
Ultimately, Conor could rematch the Californian, as many seem to want him to. That said, I believe he realized that he is better suited for a smaller weight class (he fought Diaz at 170 pounds, though Diaz has historically fought at 155) where his power translates more effectively. Additionally…he’s the champion at 145, and no one is a true champion until they defend their belt, as Matt Hughes once famously stated. Featherweight, currently, is a murderer’s row of opponents, Jose Aldo, Max Holloway, Jeremy Stephens and Dennis Bermudez all stand there with legitimate threats to McGregor’s title. Those are all excellent fights for Conor as well. Regardless of his defeat at the hands of Diaz, McGregor is an incredible talent, a freak athlete gifted with insane knockout power and a mouth that spits gold 24/7. He can match with any of those opponents and have some classic fights, but first and foremost, he must deal with Jersey born scrapper Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.
Former lightweight king Frankie Edgar has defeated a who’s who of the smaller weight classes. He has bested BJ Penn three times, “The California Kid” Uriah Faber, Cub Swanson, Gray Maynard, Charles Olivera, and most recently face-planted three-time title challenger Chad Mendes with a hook from hell. His wrestling is outstanding, he submits blackbelts, and has discovered some serious power in his hands. However, we know how shorter men have fared against the rangy McGregor before. His left hand sucks the soul out of his opponents, and after a crushing defeat by Diaz, a win over a true monster like Edgar would reestablish McGregor as the king of his division and as a bonafide legend in the lighter weight classes. This is a fight that’s for legacy. Will Edgar become one of three two-division champions? Or will McGregor add his greatest prize yet to his collection of heads, as he pushes for his own two-division championship?
Undercard Fights for UFC 200:
Josh Barnett vs. Mark Hunt
Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker
Joe Duffy vs. Michael Johnson
Tom Lawlor vs. Sean O’Connell
Amanda Nunez vs. Cat Zingano