It all started with a broken foot in training. Back in February, Rafael Dos Anjos was set to defend his lightweight championship belt against the featherweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor had his mind set on becoming a UFC champion in two weight classes after defeating Jose Aldo with a single left hand. When he asked Dana White for a shot at the lightweight belt, Dana obliged. His plans were to take the lightweight belt from Dos Anjos and then go back to the featherweight division to take on either Frankie Edgar or a rematch with Jose Aldo.
Then, less than two weeks before the two were set to face off in the octagon, Dos Anjos had to pull out from the fight with a broken foot he suffered in training. The UFC was left scrambling to find someone to step in on short notice and take on one of the biggest names in the sport, who had been dominating the featherweight division. Many fighters wanted the fight, but 10 days notice wasn’t enough time. Frankie Edgar was coming off of an injury, Jose Aldo who had just been knocked out with one punch in the first half minute of his fight with McGregor turned it down. There was a large number of guys who wanted to punch Conor McGregor in the face, but he and the UFC couldn’t agree on one.
Then, Stockton’s own Nate Diaz threw his name in the mix. It wasn’t too long ago that he had called out McGregor with an obscenity-laced post fight promo that aired live on FOX. Sure, the guys at FOX didn’t like it too much, but it was one of the best promos in UFC history, and it worked for Diaz. However, Diaz had literally just got back home from vacation and had spent the majority of his last week drinking tequila on the beach. McGregor originally wanted the fight to go down at 155lb but Diaz didn’t believe he could cut the weight in the little time he had to prepare and requested at catchweight at 165lb. McGregor being McGregor, decided to just go ahead and make it 170lb.
As we all know, it didn’t go his way, at all. But McGregor had plenty of options after his loss to Diaz. He could go back to featherweight and defend his belt, he could dabble in the lightweight division; there is still a very long list of people who want to punch him in the face. The loss to Diaz would bother McGregor too much and he wanted Nate Diaz one more time, at the same weight of 170lb. So, we got all pumped up for a rematch between the two who sold one of the highest selling UFC PPVs in just 8 days notice, and it was going to be on the biggest card of the year UFC 200. Then, McGregor didn’t want to leave Iceland and decided to retire, Jones pissed dirty, Brock came back, he pissed dirty, and Anderson Silva took a fight with the light-heavyweight champion just because he was already on his way to Vegas and had no major plans that weekend anyways.
The UFC went back to negotiations with Diaz and McGrgeor, it was going to happen, it wasn’t going to happen, Dana White was spotted by TMZ looking happy, then again looking mad. Finally, the rematch is set. UFC 202 in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday isn’t just about Diaz and McGregor, even though there’s only 4 fighters on the card that are ranked in the top ten of their division other than the two guys set to headline that are fighting each other at a weight class that neither are in the top 15. There’s also a light-heavyweight fight between #1 Anthony Johnson and #2 Glover Teixeira, the winner could face champion Daniel Cormier for the belt. Donald Cerrone will take on Rick Story, and undefeated Cody Garbrandt will try to keep his win streak alive against Takeya Mizugaki. Even more exciting than the rest of the card, the return of the Original Gangster, AKA Bada-Boom Realest Guy In The Room, AKA Your Favorite Writer’s Favorite Writer, AKA The Pinche himself.
Here are my picks for UFC 202:
-450 Tim Means (25-7-1) over +360 Sabah Homasi (11-5)
Homasi is coming off of a KO win over Jorge Patino, who took the fight on short notice, at Titan FC 40. He is riding a three right win streak coming into to his UFC debut, but he is going up against the always tough Tim Means. Means is coming off of a suspension for a drug test he never really failed to begin with. The botched test cost him a fight with Donald Cerrone, but I don’t expect he’s lost any of the steam he had building before that fight. He is 4-1 in his last five fights, and he will give Homasi a special welcoming to the UFC. Means wins this one by TKO.
+235 Mike Perry (6-0) over -275 Hyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1)
Gyu Kim is a big favorite in this fight, but I think Perry will pull off the upset here. Although this is Perry’s UFC debut, he is on a six-fight winning streak, all coming from first round finishes. Gyu Lim has looked pretty good in the past, but come Saturday night, Perry will be putting him to sleep.
-170 Donald Cerrone (30-7) over +150 #9 Rick Story (19-8)
Rick Story is riding a three-fight winning streak heading into this match, beating his last opponent, Tarec Saffiedine, by decision in May. Cerrone is on a two-fight winning streak after bouncing back from the beating Don Anjos put on him when they fought for the title, and although it seems Story will be trying to take this one to the ground quick, I think we may see a little more stand up action from the two. Ultimately, it will be Cerrone that comes out on top in this one. Even if Story can take Cerrone down, I don’t believe he can do enough to edge out a decision that way. Cerrone takes this one the distance and wins by decision.
-210 #1 Anthony Johnson (21-5) over +165 #2 Glover Teixeira (25-4)
Although Teixeira is coming off of an impressive KO over Rashad Evans, which got him a Performance of the Night bonus, I don’t think his power or speed matches Anthony Johnson’s. Look for some big shots early in this one, and you can never count a guy like Teixeira out of a fight, but Johnson takes this one. His speed will be too much for Teixeira and Johnson will win this bout by TKO.
+110 Nate Diaz (20-10) over -130 Conor McGregor (19-3)
After handing McGregor his first loss since 2010, you figured Nate would be the favorite in this one, but the powers that be beg to differ. This fight will be as good as everyone is predicting it to be. McGregor has been training his ass off in preparation for this fight, and has every intention of defeating Diaz and setting up a third fight between the two; Diaz has different plans, though.
With his brother, Nick, in his corner for this one, I think Diaz will come in a little more confident, with dreams of retiring on a bed of cash, courtesy of the UFC. Conor showed good striking in the first fight, but Diaz ate those punches and came back for dessert. I’m sure Conor has done a lot to get ready for this fight and probably has a better game plan too, but I don’t think it will be enough. Diaz last beat McGregor on eight days notice, this time around he has a full camp. The fight will look a lot like the last one, McGregor landing some big left hands and some spinning shit, but the later rounds is where Diaz will shine. This fight goes the exact same as the last one, just a couple rounds longer. Diaz wins be submission.
-165 Marvin Vettori (10-2) over +145 Alberto Uda (9-1)
+250 Max Griffin (12-2) over -300 Colby Covington (9-1)
-130 Neil Magny (18-5) over +110 Lorenz Larkin (17-5)
+115 Cortney Casey (5-3) over -135 Randa Markos (6-4)
-110 Chris Avila (5-2) (Nate Diaz’s training partner) over -110 Artem Lobov (12-12-1) (Conor McGregor’s training partner)
-255 Raquel Pennington (7-6) over +215 Elizabeth Phillips (5-3)
-550 #8 Cody Garbrandt (9-0) over +425 Takeya Mizugaki (21-9-2)
Get out your checkbooks ladies and gentlemen! We have some bills to pay!