Before Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's Bantamweight champion Miesha Tate puts her 135-pound title on the line opposite Brazil's Amanda Nunes in the main event tonight (Sat., July 9, 2016) at UFC 200 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Brock Lesnar will make his return to the Octagon.
As the biggest draw in UFC history, the WWE superstar will be sure to produce in epic fashion. Win, lose, or draw, Lesnar's return is a big reason why UFC 200 is going to go down as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) event of all time.
But, considering the 38-year-old super athlete hasn't competed inside of the cage since losing to Alistair Overeem back at UFC 141 in 2011 via first-round technical knockout, there's no telling how well Lesnar is going to compete when he meets Heavyweight knockout artist Mark Hunt head on.
Because of the attention Lesnar commands and the uncertainty of his abilities entering the biggest fight of his short MMA career, the former UFC Heavyweight champion will be the "Fighter to Watch" tonight in Las Vegas.
Unlike many of his previous Octagon appearances, Lesnar will enter UFC 200's co-main event as healthy as he's ever been. With nearly five years off from the sport, the hulking wrestler has had ample time to heal his diverticulitis. The digestive illness has hampered Lesnar in the past, most notably leading up to his meeting with "The Reem," but shouldn't be an issue this time around opposite Hunt. So even though Lesnar has had only a month and change to prepare himself for his return to professional combat, he did it with his body intact.
That means that Lesnar's ability, or inability, to capture victory over the "Super Samoan" will all come down to his readily available skill set. MMA pundits have long wondered what Lesnar would be capable of if he could train healthy, fight healthy, and successfully evolve without limitation. Well, UFC 200 will offer an answer to that question. We will finally find out what the greatest athlete in the history of the promotion looks like when he's fighting to his full potential.
It's truly a scary thought to process, especially if you're Hunt.
But just because Lesnar's body is working the way it should be doesn't mean his chin will. Lesnar has never had the greatest of chins and notoriously hates getting hit. While he'll attempt to utilize his world-class wrestling base, natural strength, and distinct seven-inch reach advantage to thwart any offense thrown his way, Hunt is one of the sneakier punchers in the Heavyweight division. He was able to close the distance on a towering Stefan Struve, adapt on the fly to finish Frank Mir, momentarily handle the versatility of Fabricio Werdum, and drag Stipe Miocic to the fifth round. In other words, Hunt has shown the capacity to bypass natural size and athleticism in order to land his heavy hands.
Whether or not Lesnar is able to eat Hunt's best punches has yet to be determined. It's unlikely that he can, which is why it's going to be fascinating to see how the WWE superstar game plans for his return. He needs to juggle the spotlight, the physical demands, the mental strain, and the idea that he's fighting for his MMA legacy to leave the Octagon at UFC 200 victorious and vindicated.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 200 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.