The anticipation for UFC 200 has created a lot of buzz in the MMA world, and there is no shortage of fighters seeking a spot in that legendary card. However, there are a lot of interesting fights scheduled before July’s UFC 200. The most notable ones being Jones vs Cormier II, Weidman vs Rockhold II, Faber vs Cruz III, among others. All of those fights are amazing in their own right, and so are the cards for UFC 197 and 199. The problem is that the best card prior to UFC 200 just might be 198, and there is not a whole lot of people talking about it. The card is full of fresh, exciting, and fan friendly fights involving some of the biggest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. The event is scheduled to take place May 14th in Curitiba, Brazil. In addition to the great fights, the event will be held at Arena da Baixada, which will be the first UFC stadium event in Brazil.
The undercard will likely have some main card worthy fights, such as Cris Cyborg’s UFC debut, and hot prospect Warlley Alves taking on Bryan Barberena. Rumors of Cyborg’s potential UFC debut have been thrown around quite a bit over the past few years. The speculation is over as she has been added to UFC 198 to fight Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. The anticipated match up with Ronda Rousey will not happen at her debut, but it is a huge step towards that potential fight. Cyborg has dominated Invicta FC’s featherweight division, and hopes to shake up women’s MMA in the UFC. Smith fought recently at UFC Fight Night Hunt vs Mir, and beat Rin Nakai via unanimous decision.
On the other hand, the undefeated top prospect Warlley Alves is looking to move up the rankings in the very tough Welterweight division. Alves has finished his last two fights by submission both being guillotines, including the first round stoppage of Colby Covington at UFC 194. The talent of Alves is undeniable, but can he make some noise in one of the most stacked divisions. Bryan Barberena is no stranger to undefeated hot prospects, since his last fight was against Sage Northcutt. Barberena pulled a big upset against Northcutt, by submitting the young phenom in the second round. The question is can he do it again, or is Alves too skilled?
Things get very interesting in the main card with important fights like Demian Maia vs Matt Brown, Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Vitor Belfort, and the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum. As mentioned before, the Welterweight division is super deep with talented young fighters as well as tough and skilled veterans. A clash of top ten ranked veterans could have title shot implications, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia faces “The Immortal” Matt Brown. Brown has gone the distance against the last two Welterweight champions in the past, and he is looking to build on his latest submission win over Tim Means. He has a very tough task in the form of Maia, and this should be a very entertaining fight to watch. The winner will likely enter the top five and put himself in the position of fighting for a shot at UFC gold.
If you enjoy striking battles, then you should love the matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva. It might be safe to say that nobody is shooting for a takedown in this on, but you just might see a knockout of the year candidate. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses, but they are still top ten in the Middleweight division. The winner would take a step closer to a shot at the winner of UFC 199’s main event, and most likely a spot in the top five. The fight should be very fan friendly and thrilling from start to finish, so make sure you don’t blink during this one.
The next fight has even more influence on the Middleweight division, as it should definitely provide the next number one contender. The number two ranked middleweight “Jacare” Souza will meet number three ranked Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the co-main event. Two guys with major knockout power, so this could easily be a quick one. There is nobody currently at middleweight or maybe even the entire UFC roster who has better Brazillian Jiu Jitsu than Souza, so If the fight goes to the ground he will certainly have the advantage. Souza lost his last fight to Yoel Romero in a very controversial fight, but he is looking to finally get that shot at the belt. Vitor’s last fight was a first round KO of Dan Henderson, and he hopes to get a rematch against either Weidman or Rockhold.
The main event is the Heavyweight championship of the world, as Fabricio Werdum defends his title for the first time against Stipe Miocic. Werdum was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez in a rematch earlier this year, but Cain suffered a back injury. The UFC offered Miocic as a replacement to Werdum, but the champ was also injured. Nonetheless, they will fight in May and it should be a great fight between two warriors. Both men are very well trained and they can hit, so this could also be a quick fight as are most Heavyweight bouts. Fabricio’s tremendous ground game could be the x factor in this matchup, but it is not a grappling match so anything could happen. Two of the baddest men on the planet fighting for glory is a great way to close out an amazing card of fights. It is a great time to be an MMA fan, and the future looks very bright for the sport.
Joao V. Gomes
Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer