PENICK: Underwhelming UFC 200 Event Fails to Live Up to Historic Predecessor

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Brock Lesnar (photo credit Joshua Dahl © USA Today Sports)

UFC 200 has come and gone, and unlike it’s predecessor in UFC 100 there’s little that will leave a lasting impression Staff08Penick_120on fans. Instead of the epic “biggest event ever” the UFC was trying to sell, it was just another fight card, filled with the typical highs and lows of your average pay-per-view event.

It could have been so much more, but a wide ranging series of events kept them from having their top stars on the card. What was left, while still clearly on paper one of their strongest top to bottom fight cards, failed to live up to expectations when it was all over.

Had everything gone their way, the UFC could have had an epic event featuring all of their biggest stars, truly making this an iconic card remembered for all time. It’s how the stars aligned for UFC 100, bringing to fruition a number of major stories and stars at one time for an unprecedented event. For UFC 200, it seemed everything possible kept it from being that kind of card.

In a best case scenario, the UFC would have wanted both Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor on this card, and issues both in and out of their hands kept that from happening. Even with her loss to Holly Holm last November, Rousey facing Holm in a rematch would have been massive. Even when Holm lost to Miesha Tate in March, Rousey facing Tate in a rematch would have been massive. Take Rousey out of the picture, and a rematch between Tate and Holm could have been even bigger. Instead, they wound up with Tate against Nunes, and though it was a very good fight in a vacuum – and eventually brought one of the few highlights on Saturday’s main card – it was a significantly lesser fight from a business and historical standpoint than they could have had.

On the McGregor front, after his win over Jose Aldo in December just about any fight for him would have been huge. Had he fought and defeated Rafael dos Anjos in March at UFC 196 as planned, he would have entered as a two-division champion and could have fought just about any fighter in either division to bring huge interest. With the loss to Diaz, the rematch was clearly going to do significantly well with the casual fanbase – just as it still will on August 20 at UFC 202 – but miscommunication and the UFC’s bullheadedness took that out of the mix. Instead, we got what was a very good Interim Title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar that nevertheless won’t get the respect or reverence it perhaps deserves.

Without either Rousey or McGregor on the card, they instead turned to the feud between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, and brought back Brock Lesnar as a completely unexpected X factor to boost the card up. Once again, things didn’t quite go as planned.

Jon Jones’ USADA test failure blowing up the main event on fight week couldn’t have been foreseen, and the UFC did what they could to salvage things with the Anderson Silva bout. It was a great move to get another name on the card, until reality set in with the fight and Cormier did what perhaps should have been expected from the moment it was signed. Cormier, rather than follow the path of Conor McGregor or Luke Rockhold against a late notice opponent, instead followed what Jones did against Ovince Saint Preux. He didn’t get himself in trouble, and didn’t risk losing. That led to a widely derided fight, but it could have gone very poorly for him otherwise.

With Lesnar, the real disappointment came in the second round that saw neither he nor Mark Hunt mount any significant offense, and perhaps with the fact that there was no finish to the fight. Still, the fascination the bout inspired made it one of the highlights of the night, even if Lesnar couldn’t come close to what he’d done seven years prior.

The fact that the strong undercard was simply passable after a really hot start on UFC Fight Pass hurt things a bit as well, as the Fox Sports 1 prelims halted some momentum. While there were some standout performances, and a few highlights, it was nothing the likes of which we saw at that seminal event in 2009.

That’s the key difference between these two cards. UFC 100 fortuitously brought together Lesnar and Frank Mir for a rematch that probably wasn’t expected one year prior. Lesnar lost his debut to Mir, then turned around to beat Heath Herring and then a returning Randy Couture to take the UFC Heavyweight Title. Meanwhile, Couture’s prior absence led to a mini-tournament that saw Mir shock Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the Interim Title. A knee injury to Mir then pushed the rematch to the centennial card, and in combination with top star Georges St-Pierre and the huge TUF coaches bout between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping it made for the biggest possible event they could have ever had at that point.

UFC 200 failed to reach that mark, no matter what comes back in pay-per-view buys, and it won’t be remembered anywhere close to the same level that we still remember that 2009 event. It doesn’t make it an abject failure, but at the end of a crazy week it makes the card just another event in a sea of fight cards.

[Photo (c) Joshua Dahl via USA Today Sports]

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3 Comments on PENICK: Underwhelming UFC 200 Event Fails to Live Up to Historic Predecessor

    • No, you are wrong. It was really underwhelming. If you thought Hunt/Lesnar was good but DC/Silva was not I am not sure what your standard for a “good fight is” There were 2 decent showings all night. Not worth they hype.

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