UFC 200: Jon Jones absence doesn't detract from record-breaking card as Anderson Silva jets in, says Dan Hardy

British UFC welterweight and commentator Dan Hardy shares his thoughts ahead of the biggest UFC event in history - UFC 200

Dan Hardy
Saturday 09 July 2016 11:30
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Anderson Silva (right) is a late replacement for Jon Jones to fight Daniel Cormier (left) at UFC 200
Anderson Silva (right) is a late replacement for Jon Jones to fight Daniel Cormier (left) at UFC 200

Fight week is well underway and all of the athletes taking part in UFC 200 are in town and ready to go. With three events in one week, it's hard to keep up with all of the goings on. The pinnacle of the week though, will be Saturday's event, which is stacked with the UFC's best talent. It has not been without drama though, as a last minute rescheduling of the main event has given the bout order a very different look.

At the start of the week fans were all discussing the highly anticipated rematch between current light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, and former title-holder, Jon Jones. However, that bout was derailed when the Jones camp was notified late on Wednesday of a potential drug test violation. There would be no time to investigate before the event, which forced Jones' removal from the card.

The following twenty-four hours were filled with speculation and rumours about how the UFC would deal with this huge setback. As a tearful Jon Jones appeared at a last minute press conference, little did we all know that the great Anderson Silva was already preparing to head to Las Vegas to step in and face Daniel Cormier. Due to the last minute nature of the match up, Silva insisted on three rounds instead of five, making this a non-title bout.

That led to a reshuffling of the main card, moving women's bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate, to the main event. Although the disappointment at Jones' removal was evident when speaking with fans, the addition of Silva has certainly made up for it to an extent. And with the return of WWE superstar, and former heavyweight champ, Brock Lesnar, UFC 200 is set to break all of the records.

It's hard to choose one fight off the main card to discuss, as they are all main event worthy. Kicking off the pay-per-view we have former heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, facing six-foot-seven Hawaiian, Travis Browne. Velasquez knows a win here is essential to prevent him dropping further in the rankings. He will be looking to crowd Brown and nullify that reach advantage. Browne has shown devastating kicking and mean elbows against the fence, which have stopped two top heavyweights. If he can get the job done, this would undoubtedly be his biggest win.

Velasquez needs a win to stop his fall down the rankings 

Next up we have the rematch between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, which is destined to be a barnburner. The five round war that was their first meeting saw Aldo get the early lead with faster hands and elusive takedown defence. Edgar's persistence began to pay off as the fight progressed, but he couldn't mount enough of an offensive to take the title. Now that McGregor is the champion at featherweight, this fight will not only establish the new interim champion, but the next title challenger.

Aldo will hope to gain a rematch with McGregor by beating Edgar

Moving up the card, Daniel Cormier will set aside his disappointment at the withdrawal of Jones, and take on his new opponent - the great Anderson Silva. It would have been essential for Cormier to close the distance fast against Jones, and the same game plan is applicable here against Silva. Possibly the greatest fighter to ever step into the Octagon, Silva makes the striking range his own. With a diverse selection of weapons, and the fight IQ to outsmart any man, he is a serious threat to anyone he faces.

Cormier (left) was supposed to fight Jones at UFC 200

I expect Cormier to start fast and fierce, and hope to put Silva on the back foot immediately. Cormier will be the biggest and probably the most skilled wrestler that Silva has faced. It is also only three rounds instead of the scheduled five, so Cormier will have no reason to pace himself. After an emotional roller coaster of a week, Cormier will be ready to finally get the fight started no doubt.

Even if it's not against the man he actually wants to face, a win over the legendary Anderson Silva will do wonders for his legacy.

Silva has flown in as a late replacement for Jones (Getty)

The next fight of the night will feature two of the biggest men on the roster, both is size and notoriety. The 'Super Samoan' Mark Hunt is a mainstay in the heavyweight division and a hard-hitting kickboxer with a wealth of experience in combat sports. He will stand across from former UFC champion, Brock Lesnar, who is returning to competition after a five-year hiatus. He towered over Hunt at the face-off, and has the wrestling credentials to utilise his enormous frame in vicious fashion.

The one thing that always seems to even the field of play though, is the supernatural power of Hunt. He has to make takedown defence his priority in the first round, because if he gets trapped underneath Lesnar, it will be a short and painful night. It's an impressive sight when Brock is in the Octagon, but nothing would be more impressive than if Hunt manages to land his famous walk-off knockout. He promised to "punch the face off" Lesnar, and he certainly has the power to do that. The question is, can he stay on his feet long enough to land it?

Brock Lesnar (left) will now co-headline UFC 200 against Mark Hunt

In the main bout of this historic UFC event, Miesha Tate will make her first title defence against tough Brazilian, Amanda Nunes. There is no doubt that this women's bantamweight division is getting more competitive. Since Holm claimed the title from long-reigning champion, Ronda Rousey, and Tate choked Holm out and stole her thunder, yet another contender has emerged. Nunes is ferocious. Nicknamed 'The Lioness', her aggressive style is what defines this well-rounded athlete.

Tate won the title after choking Holm unconscious

Fighting out of American Top Team, she is at the perfect gym to continue her growth. A black belt in Judo, her balance will be a useful attribute against Tate. Should the fight stay standing, she has fast hands and is skilled at judging range and distance. I would expect the defending champion to work from the clinch, try to get her opponent grounded, and beat her up until a submission presents itself. With a championship team behind her, Tate will be well prepared to do what is necessary to retain her title.

Watch UFC 200: Tate vs Nunes live on BT Sport from 1am on Sunday morning or catch the Early Prelims from 11:30pm on Saturday night on UFC Fight Pass

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