In a stunning twist, heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt will now headline the July 9 (10 P.M. EST, Pay Per View) UFC 200 fight card, after it was announced that interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was pulled from the event for violating the promotion's policy regarding performance enhancing drugs.
And with Jones and Daniel Cormier off the card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Lesnar and Hunt's three-round affair tops what is considered the biggest event in the UFC's 23-year history.
Returning to the Octagon for the first time in nearly five years, former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar takes on Mark Hunt, a man considered by many to be the hardest puncher on the UFC roster.
A late addition to the UFC 200 card, Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is an elite grappler who also happens to be one of the biggest stars professional wrestling has ever known. Lesnar has already demonstrated his willingness to bring fights to the ground, but questions remain about his ability to absorb Hunt's heavy strikes.
Hunt (12-10-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC), who last competed at UFC Fight Night 85, knocking out former champion Frank Mir, is looking for his third straight win. And with six of his seven victories inside the Octagon coming by way of knockout or TKO, there's no surprise that Hunt, a former K-1 champion, will try to keep this bout on the feet.
A true striker-versus-grappler matchup, this bout won't last long. Lesnar will come out and immediately look for the takedown. But Hunt, who has been consistently active during Lesnar's absence from MMA, will avoid the takedown and land the finishing strikes in the first round.
Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes
It's a rare thing to see a championship fight so low on any UFC fight card. But with UFC 200's depth, which includes nine current and former champions and three The Ultimate Fighter winners, the women's bantamweight title bout between champion Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes falls to the middle of the main card. Regardless, it's a fight worthy of the event's lofty stature.
Tate (18-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who claimed the belt at UFC 196, choking out Holly Holm in the fifth round, looks to make her first title defense and sixth-consecutive victory overall. A seasoned veteran and savvy grappler, Tate has progressed in all facets of MMA since dropping her first two bouts inside the Octagon.
Nunes (12-4 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who has won three straight bouts, is known for her heavy striking, but her cardio and endurance are a bit suspect.
Don't expect an early finish here, as Nunes will likely storm out of the gates and take the first round or two. But as Nunes fades in the later rounds, Tate will pick up the pace and earn the submission victory in the championship rounds.
Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo
A rematch of their UFC 156 title fight, featherweights Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will now square off for an interim strap, while current champion Conor McGregor continues his dalliance at welterweight.
Edgar (20-4-1 MMA, 14-4-1 UFC), the former UFC lightweight champion, has won five straight bouts since losing to Aldo in February 2013. Known for his wrestling and top control, Edgar's boxing has become some of the best in the division.
Aldo (25-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC), the UFC's first featherweight champion, last competed at UFC 194, losing his title to McGregor. Looking to rebound from his first loss inside the Octagon, Aldo hopes to erase the memories of suffering the fastest knockout loss in UFC championship history.
Both Edgar and Aldo are experienced veterans who are proficient in every aspect of MMA. And while Aldo will likely come out with his signature leg kicks, Edgar will press forward to nullify the vicious strikes. In close, Edgar can box Aldo up while looking for the takedown. But Aldo's takedown defense is solid, and this bout will play out, mostly, on the feet, much like their first encounter.
But unlike the previous bout, Edgar will look for a fast start and push the pace from the opening bell until the final horn. Frankie Edgar takes this fight via razor-thin decision.
Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne
An intriguing heavyweight battle, this fight between Cain Velasquez, the former two-time UFC champion, and Travis Browne kicks off the UFC 200 main card.
Velasquez (13-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), who last competed at UFC 188, enters the bout on the heels of a second straight year-plus layoff. Browne (18-3-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC), a kickboxer who stands at 6-foot-7, last competed at UFC Fight Night 81, earning a TKO win over Matt Mitrione.
With a win, both men can make their claim for the next heavyweight title shot, following Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem's UFC 203 headliner on September 10. And while Browne has fought more recently, Velasquez is in bigger need of the win.
Look for Velasquez to press forward immediately and look for the takedown. Browne has shown an ability to absorb damage and come from behind to win, but Velasquez's pressure and top game will be too much here.
Cain Velasquez wins this bout via first round TKO.