It’s not easy following in the footsteps of history. No one remembers the career of Brent Gretzky; the ’73 Dolphins are an afterthought; and nobody outside of Vanilla Ice acknowledges the existence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
This weekend, UFC 200 will mark the crowning achievement for a promotion that has grown so rampantly, it just sold for over $4 billion. Boasting a stacked card from top-to-bottom, it features all the biggest names in mixed martial arts (who haven’t pissed off Dana White) and will be one of the highest-grossing events in the company’s history.
Three weeks later, UFC 201 will take place (July 30 at Philips Arena in Atlanta), and no one will notice.
Well, I guess that’s not fair. The welterweight title fight between Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley could end up being pretty good.
And Demetrious Johnson is always fun to watch. Maybe this event won’t totally suck! Let’s take a closer look.
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (-225) vs Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (+190)
Every time Robbie Lawler (27-10) steps into the ring, magic happens. Ruthless was part of both the 2014 and 2015 Fights of the Year (as named by Sherdog): one a loss to Johny Hendricks and the other a brutal win over Rory MacDonald. Four of his last six bouts were named Fight of the Night. The brilliant striker always game to put on an epic show, but can his opponent in this one keep up?
Tyron Woodley (15-3) hasn’t been in the ring since January of 2015, when he scored an unimpressive split-decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. The “Chosen One” was not a popular choice to get this title shot, but has the tools to pull off the upset. Woodley has the advantage on the ground, winning five fights in his career by submission. Lawler is a pure upright brawler, and only has one submission win over his 15 years.
However, Lawler knows his limitations and has been able to keep his opponents on their feet, defending takedowns and throwing plenty of punches to keep them backing up. Lawler also has the reach and height advantage over Woodley.
Both fighters are members of American Top Team, so they’ll have some familiarity with how the other operates. While this might actually be deserving of a headliner fight in the end, I can’t see Lawler dropping his title to Woodley. There’s a lot of great talent in the Welterweight division; Woodley isn’t quite there yet.
Pick: Robbie Lawler (-225)
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (-1400) vs Wilson Reis (+750)
[FIGHT CANCELLED DUE TO INJURY TO JOHNSON]
Some day, they’ll simply rename the flyweight division for Demetrious Johnson (24-2-1). The only fighter to ever hold the belt since the division was created in 2012, “Mighty Mouse” has successfully defended his title eight times. Now the eighth-ranked flyweight, Wilson Reis (20-6), is the next lamb offered up for the slaughter. Reis has only won three of his previous five bouts, either by submission or decision. Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off a TKO of Henry Cejudo. Reis isn’t going to be able to outwrestle Johnson, and it looks like he doesn’t have the pop to land a knockout. The question for this fight isn’t will Mighty Mouse win, it’s how. Pick: Johnson wins inside the distance (-141)
(Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons (Youtube Channel)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode])