Well, tonight is the night. Conor McGregor gets the rematch of the non-title, non-controversial short notice loss to Nate Diaz tonight, once again at Welterweight. He still hasn’t defended his belt, but it is what it is.
The main card looked like a Welterweight version of UFC 146 few weeks ago, minus a title fight, with a Light Heavyweight title eliminator set as the co-main. Along with the headliner, the other Welterweight bouts that were scheduled for the main card were a unique contest between longtime stalwart Rick Story and former UFC Lightweight title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, a great fight all-out brawler Carlos Condit and Jiu Jitsu master Demian Maia, as well as a scintillating matchup between borderline top-10 talents Tim Means and Sean Strickland.
In the past few weeks however, the main card has taken some hits. Condit and Maia got a well-deserve move from being an overlooked PPV fight to a great FOX headliner for next week’s card in Vancouver, Sean Strickland got hurt, and in place of Condit/Maia, Hyun Gyu Lim, who was supposed to face former Bellator member Sultan Aliev, will now face newcomer Mike Perry.
Don’t let all the changes fool you though, this is still a damn good card. The top three bouts are still intact, Perry/Lim will be a slugfest, and so will Means/Homasi. All in all, it should be a very fun main card chock full of finishes, and here’s my predictions for it.
UFC 202 Main Card (10/9c, PPV)
Tim Means (25-7-1) vs. Sabah Homasi (11-5)
Opening up the card is a surefire brawl that should be more exciting than a bout between Means and Sean Strickland (Mean’s originally scheduled opponent) would’ve been. Whereas Strickland has been in a few less than entertaining bouts, Homasi is a brawler, just like Means. Means is a former King of the Cage champion who was unfairly cut in 2013 with a 2-2 UFC record, but was brought back after a pair of first round knockout wins as the headliner of a pair of LEgacy FC cards. Since his return, “Dirty Bird” gone 6-2 inside the octagon, with four finishes. He’s won 21 of his 25 wins via finish, 17 of which have come via knockout. He’s also been finished four times, three times via submission, but has only been finished once since 2010.
As for Homasi, the TUF 22 contestant and American Top Team mainstay has won three straight bouts, and six of his last seven fights, all via finish. He’s only gone the distance twice, has six knockout wins, and always brings the action. That said, he tend to lose against anyone that has a known name besides Jorge Patino in his most recent bout, and he doesn’t have Means’ experience. He’s been knocked out before, and while an upset wouldn’t be too shocking, I’m not going to predict it. Prediction: Means via tko, round 2.
Hyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1) vs. Mike Perry (6-0)
Up next is a fight that will take the spot of Condit/Maia, and will be a surefire Fight of the Night candidate. Lim s a black belt in Taekwondo, and has won ten fights via knockout. He’s been fighting since February 2006, but aside from an outlier of five fights in 2008, he’s never had more than two fights in any year. That’s why it’s extra important to tune into his fights, because each one is going to be a Fight of the Night candidate.
Lim’s opponent Mike Perry may be a newcomer, but he’s no joke. He’s won all six of his fights via knockout, four times in the first round. Lim is very hittable, so an upset won’t be the most shocking thing ever. Add in the fact that Lim got finished in his last fight, as well as the fact that he’s been out of action for 16 months, and a loss is definitely a possibility. I still think he’ll win though, in what should be an absolutely bananas slugfest. Prediction: Lim via tko, late round 1.
(14) Donald Cerrone (30-7, 1NC) vs. (9) Rick Story (19-8)
The next fight is a head-scratcher in terms of making a prediction. Cerrone has been terrific since moving up to Welterweight, following his 66-second championship loss to Raphael dos Anjos last December. Since moving up, “Cowboy” has looked just like he did when he reeled off eight straight wins heading into the RDA fight, defeating Alex Oliveira and longtime ranked Welterweight Patrick Cote, both via knockout, earning a Performance of the Night bonus on each occasion. He’s terrific on the feet, but has won 16 times via submission as well, and a win tonight could propel him into the top 10 in his new division.
Standing in Cerrone’s way is Story. Having been in the UFC since June 2009, “The Horror” has fought 18 times inside the octagon, amassing a 12-6 record in that span. Since becoming the first man to ever defeat Johny Hendricks back in late 2010, Story went through some ups and downs, but has won three straight fights and is looking for a potential run towards the title if he wins tonight. He does have eight career finishes, but 18 of his fights have gone the distance, and he’s 11-7 in such cases. He can win tonight, but I think Cerrone will find a way to eke out a late finish when all is said and done. Prediction: Cerrone via submission, late round 3.
(1) Anthony Johnson (21-5) vs. (2) Glover Texeira (25-4)
Prediction: Johnson via knockout, round 1.
Nate Diaz (19-10) vs. (FW-C) Conor McGregor (19-3)
What more needs to be said about this fight that hasn’t already been said? Diaz beat Conor on 11-days notice, without a camp! This fight is happening solely due to McGregor’s ego, sour grapes, and money. It’s a rematch of a non-title, non-controversial, short notice bout, and while a McGregor win wouldn’t shock me, I’m expecting a similar outcome as UFC 196. Hopefully after this, McGregor will finally defend his damn title. Prediction: Diaz via submission, round 2.