For the first time in several years, the Bloody Elbow staff predictions posts have been split in half. Starting with UFC 200, the really big events (like UFC 202, the MSG show, etc.) will merit one section for the prelims, and one for the main card. This post is just for the main card, and chances are there will be four more main event changes before Saturday morning. Eddie Mercado, who picked Alvarez over dos Anjos last night, is the only one going with Amanda Nunes to beat Miesha Tate in the main event. Jed Meshew, Stephie Haynes, Tim Bissell, and Eddie see Brock Lesnar beating Mark Hunt in the co-main-turned-main-turned-co-main. Fraser Coffeen and Lewis McKeever have Anderson Silva beating Daniel Cormier, which is also a good time to remind everyone that USADA does not conduct drug testing here at Bloody Elbow.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Eddie Mercado entered all of his predictions on Tuesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he's going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Amanda Nunes vs. Miesha Tate
Mookie Alexander: Amanda Nunes has a chance. It's not out of the question she gets off to another strong start, beats up Tate standing -- she has very good punching power and brutal leg kicks -- and gets the champ in trouble early. The problem is Miesha is both really tough, really durable, and has a gas tank. I just cannot bank on Nunes having much to offer in the later rounds unless she goes bizarro Nunes and fights at a snail's pace. Nunes will give Tate a solid fight for the first 8-9 minutes or so, but Tate will pull away strongly in the later rounds. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: Tate will probably run into some trouble, but I'm pretty sure she will once again find a way to beat Nunes and attack the holes in her game. Miesha Tate by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: This is not a total blowout by any means, but I still feel confident in my pick. For a world champion, Tate has some pretty obvious holes in her game, particularly in her striking. That is Nunes's area of strength, which gives the challenger a shot. But against Holm, Tate showed her ability to neutralize offense, hang in there, and get the win. I don't think she gets tested as much here, or needs to put in as much effort. Miesha Tate, submission, R2
Jed Meshew: Amanda Nunes is gonna go gangbusters in the first round and then be gassed when she can't finish the toughest woman on the planet. Tate surges after the first round and stops Nunes late. Tate by submission, round 4.
Nick Baldwin: Nunes has one round to beat Tate and capture women's bantamweight gold. She is arguably the most dangerous first-round fighter in the women's 135-pound division, but if Tate can weather the storm, I can't see Nunes being very active in the later rounds. Tate excels in championship rounds and will do so again on Saturday. Miesha Tate via Unanimous Decision.
Eddie Mercado: Tough weight cut for Tate. Huge distractions for Tate. Nunes with nunca to lose. Championship hot potato continues. Amanda Nunes by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Nunes: Eddie
Staff picking Tate: Anton, Bissell, Tim, Stephie, Mookie, Jed, Fraser, Nick, Lewis, Zane
Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
Mookie Alexander: Do I trust Lesnar to last more than half the fight and not get knocked out by Mark Hunt? Kind of. Do I trust him to avoid getting whacked by Hunt for 15 minutes? Hell no. Here's what will happen - Lesnar will take Hunt down and dominate round 1 but not threaten a finish. This gives everyone that "Holy shit he's going to do it!" false hope. A little past the midway point in round 2, Hunt finds his range, hurts Brock, and then tees off until he walks off. Mark Hunt by TKO, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: For all the talk about Brock's sickness, not dealing with Diverticulitis anymore doesn't mean he suddenly becomes 10 years younger, or better at fighting after not training for years. Getting past that disease doesn't even mean he'll look the same as he did when he was champion either. Brock will be taller and the better athlete, but at 38-years-old, with 4 and a half years outside the Octagon and 6 years from his last win, how much does he have left? Apart from those question marks, there's also the fact that this is a really bad match up for him stylistically. Hunt will have a significant striking advantage, and has excellent takedown defense. And while Brock is most dangerous when he gets good position, he hasn't exactly been the best MMA wrestler out there. I hope Lesnar can make it interesting, but I think Hunt circles away and properly defends Lesnar's bull rushes, and ends up clipping him on the feet en route to a finish. Mark Hunt by TKO.
Tim Bissell: Brock Lesnar knows full well that Mark Hunt has thunder in his hands. He's felt similar from Overeem and Velasquez and I don't think he wants to feel it again. Because of this, I think he will be highly motivated to take this fight to the ground. Given his credentials in those areas it seems likely to me that if Brock tries to take Hunt down, he probably will. On the ground I think it's entirely possible we'll see a repeat of the Carwin fight and that Brock will get his win and then promptly retire from the cage. Brock Lesnar by submission (arm triangle, Rd 1)
Jed: Mark Hunt is the only logical choice here. But everything has been bat shit crazy this week and if Stipe Miocic hit snatch singles in Mark Hunt, Brockmaninoff sure as hell can too. Give me the best wrestler at heavyweight to hit the takedown and maul everyone's favorite heavyweight. Lesnar by TKO, round 2.
Fraser: Mookie's got it. Lesnar has never liked being hit, and he's certainly not going to like being hit by Mark Hunt. He also doesn't have the power (or skill) to stop Hunt in a striking match-up. So for Brock to win, he needs to take him down and either sub him (which once was Hunt's achilles heel, but no more) or grind him out. That option is possible, but in 15 minutes does Brock at some point tire enough that Hunt bombs him? I certainly think so. Mark Hunt, KO, R2
Nick Baldwin: Lensar representing Canada simply won't be enough. Mark Hunt via Knockout; Round 1
Eddie: There is no logical reason to pick Brock here. Too many question marks. Speaking of marks, Mark Hunt has been consistently fighting forever and is capable of spectacular knockouts over guys that don't mind getting hit. All signs point to Mark which leads me to pick the unknown which is Brock Lesner. Brock Lesnar by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Lesnar: Bissell, Stephie, Jed, Eddie
Staff picking Hunt: Anton, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Fraser, Nick, Lewis, Zane
Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
Mookie Alexander: I cannot rationalize an Anderson win outside of "Cormier isn't in right state of mind given the devastation of losing the Jones fight, and short notice bouts sometimes produce weird outcomes." So if you're going with that, enjoy. Otherwise, you're kidding yourself. Anderson weighed in at 198.5 with clothes on. Daniel Cormier by 30-25 unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: I wouldn't pick Silva even if it was Cormier coming in on short notice. Nothing will change his accomplishments inside the Octagon through the years, but I think the 41-year-old gets absolutely destroyed here. Silva hasn't had a victory since 2012, and his reflexes and ability to take punishment have dropped considerably. Now he's moving up in weight and taking on the light heavyweight champ one day before the weigh-in? Yikes. Daniel Cormier by KO.
Fraser: To be clear here, Cormier is a terrible stylistic match-up for Silva, Silva hasn't been training, flew in to Vegas yesterday, and even if he has been training, is far removed from his best. But he's still Anderson Silva, and I don't pick against him. Anderson Silva, KO, R1
Jed: From a promotional standpoint this is the best fight they could have made but holy shit this is sanctioned murder. Andy Silver has fallen off a cliff athletically and he's now fighting DC on 2 days notice when he is coming off of surgery and hasn't been training? In his prime I still favor Cormier to win this fight. Tomorrow? This is gonna look like DC vs. Hendo. DC by mauling, round 2.
Nick Baldwin: I really, really love Fraser's train of thought here. But I just can't do it. If Silva had a full camp, I'd consider him picking him via come-from-behind hail-mary triangle choke (sound familiar?). But he has, literally, days to prepare. So you gotta go Cormier by ragdoll here. Daniel Cormier via decision.
Lewis McKeever: If you can believe Jesus Christ walked on water, you can believe Anderson Silva can knock the f--k out of Daniel Cormier at UFC 200. Silva via front kick KO, R2
Eddie: What is going on here? DC by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Cormier: Anton, Mookie, Jed, Stephie, Nick, Bissell, Tim, Zane, Eddie, Phil
Staff picking Silva: Fraser, Lewis
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Mookie Alexander: Three years is a long time in this sport, and a lot has changed for these two. Aldo was KO'd in his last fight and in the biggest war of his career in the fight preceding that. Frankie Edgar hasn't come close to losing at 145 since he actually lost the first Aldo fight. Now, a 13 second fight doesn't mean Aldo is done, but I do wonder about how his punch resistance will hold up for the rest of his career. I just can't convince myself that Edgar will be able to penetrate Aldo's inhuman takedown defense, but I do believe he will be a lot more competitive on the feet out of the gate than he was the first time. This is a fascinating rematch but I give the slight edge to Aldo's speed, timing, leg kicks, and takedown defense. Jose Aldo by 48-47 unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: Much like Jones vs Cormier, I also don't get how a lot of people apparently thought this first bout wasn't a clear cut win for Aldo. Unless Aldo's KO loss to McGregor changed him or his ability to take punishment, I think this will end up a lot like the first one. Edgar will have trouble taking him down, and while he will try to box and bounce in and out, he will once again have trouble dealing with a far superior striker. Jose Aldo by Decision.
Fraser: I agree with the idea that Aldo was just the better fighter than Edgar last time, and had this been booked at any time prior to last December, I would have picked Aldo. But I also think his time is pretty definitively over, and much like Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens, this is the fight where that becomes crystal clear. Frankie Edgar, decision
Jed: Edgar's resurgence at featherweight is mostly smoke and mirrors. His biggest improvements have been in his transitions and his mauling top game. Neither of those will matter here because he still can't get Aldo down so it's gonna be 5 rounds of Aldo marking him up with the jab while Frankie does his bouncing around ineffectively thing. Also, people are so concerned about Aldo fading but he's not even 30 years old and the best defensive fighter in history. He has taken far less devastating trauma than 35 year old Edgar. Getting slept by one of the most offensively talented fighters ever doesn't mean you're done and I'd still favor Aldo in the rematch. He's the second best fighter of all time and on Saturday he reminds everyone why. Aldo by clear decision.
Nick Baldwin: I really love Edgar at featherweight right now. His striking has looked very sharp as of late. On the other hand, Aldo is coming off an embarrassing 13-second knockout to Conor McGregor. I don't think Aldo will ever be the same, nor will his chin hold up. Frankie Edgar via brutal knockout; Round 1.
Eddie: Man, Frankie has been looking sharp and I haven't really seen Aldo fight since Mendes 2 (October of 2014). I have no way to assess the state of Aldo and have to pick against him. Frankie Edgar by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Aldo: Anton, Bissell, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Jed
Staff picking Edgar: Stephie, Fraser, Nick, Lewis, Zane, Eddie
Travis Browne vs. Cain Velasquez
Mookie Alexander: Browne will once in awhile just totally shock everyone with a win he wasn't supposed to get. It's heavyweight, so shit happens. Cain Velasquez better win this one, and I think his speed and pressure will be too much for Browne. I just want the Tarverdyan corner audio. Cain Velasquez by TKO, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Is he healthy? If so, this should be his fight to lose. Cain Velasquez by TKO.
Fraser: More importantly, is this one at sea-level? Velasquez, KO, R1
Jed: Even if he isn't healthy and they were fighting in Denver Cain still ain't losing this one. Cain by TKO, round 3.
Nick Baldwin: I was going to make a health/altitude joke in here somewhere, but it appears I am late to that party. So I'll just keep it real: Velasquez whoops Browne no problem. No problem at all. Velasquez via TKO; Round 1.
Eddie: Cain who? I haven't seen that dude fight since UFC 166 back in October of 2013. I liked the old Cain but I got to pass on him this time. Travis Browne by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Browne: Stephie, Eddie
Staff picking Velasquez: Anton, Bissell, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Fraser, Jed, Nick, Lewis, Zane