Well MMA fans, the night is finally here! It’s taken some major twists and turns, and it seems like the main event switches every hour. But, we’ve finally reached UFC 200 day.
Despite all the drama that has shrouded the main card, from the McGregor fiasco, to the Lesnar/UFC/Helwani fiasco, and through the entire maelstrom of epic chaos that descended upon the card this week, there’s one thing that seemingly no one has realized – this prelim card, undoubtedly the most stacked in MMA history, has gone absolutely unscathed through it all.
That’s right. Absolutely none of the seven bouts on the FS1 or fight pass portion of this insane card have dealt with injurues, cancellations, or anything of the sort. Okay, so Johny Hendricks missed weight, but so what? That’s not a surprise these days. At least every fight is happening as planned!
Speaking of fights, this really is the best prelim slate in UFC history. Two of the three fight pass fights are exactly what Fight Pass fights for a card like this should be: dream fights. Every MMA fan is aware of the legendary careers of Takanori Gomi and Diego Sanchez, as well as the sneaky epic careers of Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon. Sandwiched in between is Gegard Mousasi, one of the most underrated fighters in MMA history, who deserved the remplacenent Cormier fight in my opinion. Alas, it’s an great slate and that’s that.
Now then, I usually wrote two preview posts per card; one for the prelims, and one for the main card. However, for a card of such a mammoth presence, I’ll have to write three – one for Fight Pass, one for the televised prelims, and one for the main card. Each set is like it’s own card, and deserves to be treated as such. So, withoutfurther ado, here are my picks for tonight’s Fight Pass prelim bouts.
Fight Pass prelims (6:30/5:30c, UFC Fight Pass)
Takanori Gomi (35-11, 1NC) vs. Jim Miller (25-8, 1NC)
The first fight is one between two of my favorites, and I simply don’t want to pick against either one. Miller is one of the most underrated submission specialists in UFC history, having won 13 times in that fashion. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do black belt has amassed a 14-7 record in nearly eight years with the promotion, along with a no contest. But, he’s lost four of his last five, and despite being only 32, probably isn’t far away from retirement, or at least a UFC release with a loss.
Meanwhile, Gomi is a straight-up legend. It’s hard to put into words what all he did in PRIDE. He was the only Lightweight champion in the fabled promotion’s history, was long considered the best Lightweight in the world, and his 2005 fight against fellow UFC combatant Tatsuya Kawajiri was honestly one of the greatest Lightweight fights in MMA history.
“The Fireball Kid” lived up to his nickname, winning 13 of his first 14 PRIDE fights, including ten via first round finish. He then followed up by having some success in other promotions after PRIDE’s end, but did lose two fights during that span. He finally made his UFC debut in March 2010, but has been nowhere near the same as what he was back in his prime.His UFC record is a mediocre 4-6, although the “loss” to Sanchez was a robbery. A loss here could spell retirement of release for this legend.
In my head, I have to go with Miller. Clearly he doesn’t have much left in the tank. It’s sad to see him in this stretch of his career. He also has 13 submission wins and nine decision wins, which is how Gomi has lost nine times combined. But, Gomi is an all-time favorite. I’m a huge fan of both, so my ideal outcome would be a draw. Since that won’t happen, my head will differ with my heart. Head pick: Miller via submission, round 2. Heart pick: Gomi via thrilling decision.
Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2) vs. Thiago Santos (13-3)
Gegard Mousasi deserves better. He’s not a legend in the downturn of his career, having won three of his last four fights. The ironman fought seven times in 2005, and six times in 2006 and 2008. He’s not that active anymore, but is still good for a few fights a year. The former Strikeforce, DREAM and Cage Warriors champion has finished 31 opponents, and can get it done in any manner.
Santos is a solid fighter, with a lot of potential. He’s won four straight since dropping two of his first three UFC fights. In that span, he’s won three out of four via knockout, as he has done in eight of his 13 career wins, and also gave Elias Theodorou the only blemish of his young career.
Now, Santos has some fierce head kick finishes. Gegard’s only knockout loss came due to a flashy finish, against Uriah Hall, last September. So, there’s probably a lot of people that might pick the Brazilian to win in that fashion. That is a possibility, bit I’ll go with the veteran ironman to win this one. Prediction: Mousasi via submission, round 2.
Diego Sanchez (26-8) vs. Joe Lauzon (25-11)
Closing out the Fight Pass portion of the card is a fight that will probably be both exciting and aggravating. Both men are notorious for putting on epic fights. Lauzon has 13 post-fight bonuses, while Sanchez has a UFC record seven fight of the night awards, as well as three fight of the year honors. Both men became big around the early years of The Ultimate Fighter, and have won a combined 27 UFC fights.
Lauzon is a submission specialist who has won 18 times in that fashion. He’s struggled lately though, having lost four of his last five. He’s too popular to get cut with a loss, but it would damage his career. As for Sanchez, until his victory over Jim Miller in his last fight, he had lost arguably 10 straight fights. Why was that not the official case? Because the only man that has been gifted more controversial decisions is Cathal Pendred.
This fight could be lots of fun. But, Sanchez is a very tough matchup for Lauzon. If Sanchez fights him like he fought Miller, this should be a clear decision for him. I want to pick Lauzon, but it’ll be hard to do so. Heart pick: Lauzon via submission, round 3. Gut pick: Sanchez via controversial split decision.