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UFC 200 Observer Panel Picks: BROCK, Spider, DC, Miesha & more!

UFC 200

Well, then. We're finally here. It's time for UFC 200.

Unless the Black Scorpion or Nexus attacks backstage or a pipe is thrown in someone's way, all of the 24 fighters will indeed make their way into the cage and will thrown down. No more USADA-caused removals, no more injuries, no more bizarre circumstances. 12 fights and six or seven hours stand between us knowing whether this incredible card on paper will actually turn into the greatest MMA card of all time.

This show has something for everything; the, ahem, ultimate MMA fans buffet. Whether you're into women's fights, mainstream stars, the classics, title fights, tales of redemption, or even just heavyweight slugfests, UFC 200 has it all and then some.

But if you're reading this, you know all this already. You've probably watched all of Thursday and Friday's show, ripped through UFC Embedded, listened to hours of podcasts (like this one or this one!), and read so much you've had to get new glasses.

You and I know everything there is to know about UFC 200 at this point. The only thing left now? The results.

Our panel & results to date: 

  • John Pollock (42-23; .646) - Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
  • Ryan Frederick (40-25; .615) - WrestlingObserver.com UFC reporter, WON Twitter guy
  • Josh Nason (39-26; .600) – Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out; writer/editor WrestlingObserver.com , WON Twitter guy
  • David Bixenspan (39-26; .600) – Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
  • Dave Meltzer (38-27; .585) - Wrestling Observer Newsletter founder
  • Consensus picks (32-24; .571)
  • Favorites (37-28; .569)
  • Mike Sawyer (36-29; .554) – Tough Talk MMA
  • Mike Sempervive (36-29; .554) – Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
  • Front Row Brian (35-30; .538) – MMA newsbreaker, beloved Internet personality, Podcast host
  • Steve Juon (32-33; .492) – MMA Mania/Wrestling Observer writer. Angry Marks founder
  • Paul Fontaine (31-34; .477) – MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer

For this show, we went super-sized for the picks.

> Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate (18-5) vs Amanda Nunes (12-4)

It’s hard to believe that Tate and Nunes find themselves in the main event position of one of the biggest MMA shows of all time, but circumstances as they are, here they are. This is now the third main event for this show this week, and a surprising one given the fact Brock Lesnar is on the undercard. Does that mean a certain former bantamweight champion will make an appearance post-fight?

Tate's incredible come from behind victory over Holly Holm to win the title in March was her fifth straight win, an impressive rebirth after consecutive losses in 2013 to Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey put her in no man's land for a bit.

The 28-year-old Nunes was a surprise choice for this slot given how the Holm/Tate fight went. A winner in her last three, she’s 5-1 in her UFC career with the sole loss coming to Zingano. In four of those wins, she’s finished her opponent in the first round. She’s a sizable underdog going into this one, but stranger things have happened.

- Tate (big favorite):  Nason, Meltzer, Pollock, Bix, Sempervive, FRB, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick
- Nunes: Fontaine

> Brock Lesnar (5-3) vs Mark Hunt (12-10-1)

Is there any more to say in this one? Brock is back and your running storylines are whether he’ll fight again after this and if the damage he takes will be enough to keep him out of WWE Summerslam next month. Age is a factor for both guys, but Hunt still has KO power and we’ve seen what happens when Lesnar gets hit. Then again, Lesnar has walloped a few guys in his day.

Whatever happens, this is fun and exactly what UFC 200 needed.

- Lesnar: Nason, Sempervive, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick
- Hunt (marginal favorite): Fontaine, Meltzer, Pollock, Bix, FRB

> Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
Light Heavyweights | Non-Title

Yeah, read that match-up again. It’s still crazy, right?

The story of how we got to this fight will be a fine passage in a history book someday, but for now, you’ll have to settle for a paragraph or two

The USADA police got Jon Jones this week for a test he failed nearly a month ago. Why wait until this week? Good question. While a short notice fight on just a few days notice for the current light heavyweight champion seemed impossible, many lined up for the opportunity. Out of left field, a guy that’s a month or so removed from gallbladder surgery just happened to be in town with nothing to do.

That (and a good amount of money) led to a non-title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anderson Silva at UFC 200. That’s the kind of week it’s been...to the point that it's really, really hard for me to not pick Silva. I have that feeling, but am a coward I tells ya. A coward!

- DC: FRB, Frederick, Pollock, Sawyer, Bix, Fontaine, Sempervive, Nason, Meltzer, Juon

> UFC Interim Featherweight Championship: Jose Aldo (25-2) vs Frankie Edgar (20-4-1) II

You can tell a lot about a person by how they rebound from adversity, being knocked down, or hitting the skids. We're going to tell a lot about Aldo tonight who is still just 29 and is the still the guy that didn't lose a fight in a decade in a span that lasted 18 fights. Yes, he got dusted in 13 seconds by Conor McGregor but does that invalidate what he did over that 10 year stretch of dominance? We're going to find out.

Edgar has been a buzzsaw since he lost to Aldo in their first confrontation back in July 2013. He's won five in a row over the likes of Charles Oliveira, BJ Penn, Cub Swanson, Urijah Faber, and most recently, Chad Mendes in a convincing first round KO in December that should have earned him a shot against McGregor. Instead, we have an interim title fight while "Mystic Mac" persues redemption in a different weight class.

While the first fight was somewhat dull, the intrigue and stakes in this rematch make it nearly worth the price of admission on its own. 

- Aldo (very slight favorite): Nason, Bix, Juon
Edgar: Fontaine, Meltzer, Pollock, FRB, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive

Courtesy: ESPN Stats & Info

> Cain Velasquez (13-2) vs Travis Browne (18-3-1)

Your storyline here: what will Sea Level Cain look like? The Velasquez we saw return against Fabricio Werdum in Mexico was a shell of his former self, but was that due to the altitude, age, or a combo of both? A convincing victory here surely has to give him a title shot against the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem. I love that this is opening the PPV -- a big tone-setter for a huge event.

Also, has Browne been the quietest main card fighter this whole week? I feel like he's been an invisible man. He's coming off that controversial January win over Matt Mitrione, aka FingerGate. Once destined for a title shot, Browne is 2-2 in his last four, and is looking for his first two fight win streak since late-2013.

- Velasquez (big favorite): Nason, Meltzer, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive
- Browne: Fontaine

> Cat Zingano (9-1) vs Julianna Pena (7-2)

Zingano returns to action for the first time since her 14 second loss to then-champion Ronda Rousey in February 2015. Due to injury and tragedy, she's fought sparingly over the years -- just five times since 2011. She's had a tough time in the past few years, so here's hoping this begins a more regular fight schedule for the 34-year-old talent.

The 26-year-old Pena is a rising star in the division. After returning in April 2015 after a devastating knee injury, Pena has won two straight including an October 2015 decision over Jessica Eye. Pena ran into some legal trouble this year after some drunken hijinks at a bar or two, but who hasn't done that in their late 20s, right? A win here puts Pena close to a #1 contender's fight depending on where Ms. Rousey is at.

- Zingano (moderate favorite): Pollock, Bix, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive
- Pena: Fontaine, Nason, Meltzer, FRB

> TJ Dillashaw (12-3) vs Raphael Assuncao (23-4) II

In a fight many expected to be for the bantamweight title at one point, the former champion returns for the first time since losing his title to Dom Cruz in razor thin fashion this past January. Killashaw/Thrillashaw is 4-1 in his last five and the last loss he had before Cruz? An October 2013 split decision loss to Assuncao.

Assuncao has been on the shelf since October 2014 due to an enlongated recovery from a broken ankle that cost him a March 2015 fight with Urijah Faber. The injury halted momentum toward a title shot as he's the winner of seven straight -- a stretch that began back in August 2011. The winner here is expected to get a title shot at Cruz later this year.

- Dillashaw (big favorite): Fontaine, Nason, Meltzer, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive

> Johny Hendricks (17-4) vs Kelvin Gastelum (11-2)

Both guys have a history of problems making welterweight and the same comically applied here. Hendricks missed weight by a 1/4 of a pound and looked like death in doing so. This is likely the last welterweight fight for either guy and for Hendricks, it's really his last stand -- a tremendous fall from grace just a few years ago when many thought he beat Georges St. Pierre at the UFC's 20th anniversary show. He's got a lot riding on how he looks coming out of this one.

This fight is either going to end quickly or be terrible. I don't see a middle ground.

- Hendricks (very slight favorite): Meltzer, Pollock, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive
- Gastelum: Fontaine, Nason, Bix, FRB, Juon

> Joe Lauzon (25-11) vs Diego Sanchez (26-8)

This is the definition of a fan-friendly fight. "Veteran" doesn't seem to fully describe these two who have combined for 43 UFC fights, a lot of bonus money, a lot of great memories, and zero title reigns. Lauzon is coming off a decision loss to Evan Dunham in December, while Sanchez edged Jim Miller by decision in March.

- Lauzon (very slight favorite): Nason, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Juon, Sempervive
- Sanchez: Fontaine, Meltzer, Sawyer, Frederick

> Takanori Gomi (35-11) vs Jim Miller (25-8)

After a nice run that saw him one win away from a title shot, Miller has lost four of his last five and comes into this one a loser in his last two. One more defeat here could mean a UFC release in the always-deep lightweight divison. The 37-year-old Gomi is still fighting for some reason, making his first appearance in a year. A loser of his last two and with just a 4-6 Octagon mark, he also could be gone with a defeat in the ledger. If only they had official "loser leaves town" clauses, right?

- Miller (big favorite): Fontaine, Nason, Meltzer, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Juon, Sawyer, Frederick, Sempervive

Enjoy the show!