Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to pay-per-view (PPV) tonight (Sat., Sept. 10, 2016) with UFC 203, as Stipe Miocic attempts to defend his Heavyweight title for the very first time when he faces long-time combat sports veteran and striking specialist, Alistair Overeem. The trash talk has been pretty non-existent between these two men in the lead up to the title fight (other than this), but it hasn't been necessary, as the two heavy-hitters are sure to provide fight fans with a an exciting stand up affair. Also, former title holder Fabricio Werdum will look to rebound from his loss to Miocic at UFC 198 when he faces Travis Browne for a second time in the PPV co-main event. And you can bet all eyes will be on C.M. Punk, as he finally makes his much-anticipated professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut against Mickey Gall. Below is everything you need to know to stay on top of UFC 203.
Who: Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem
What: UFC 203
When: Sat., Sept. 10, 2016, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass
Where: Cleveland, Ohio inside Quicken Loans Arena
How To Watch: PPV main card at 10 p.m ET on PPV; FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" undercard at 8 p.m. ET; and UFC Fight Pass early "Prelims" at 7 p.m. ET. Live UFC 203 Play-by-play coverage here!
Alistair Overeem has won a title in just about very MMA organization he's fought for, including DREAM, Strikeforce and even has a K-1 title on display in his already full trophy case, which also includes a Light Heavyweight title from 2002.
Now, "The Reem" will look to claim the biggest prize of them all, as he fights for his first-ever UFC world Heavyweight strap. Standing in his way, however, is Miocic, the unlikeliest of champions in a division full of BIG names veterans who knocked out Fabricio Werdum in one round to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Now that he's there, it's going to be a tough task to bring him down.
After months and months -- and more months -- of waiting, Punk will finally get the chance to show what he's made of as the former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar steps into the eight-walled cage to face Mickey Gall in a Middleweight bout. It's safe to say a lot of people may be perhaps more interested in this bout for curiosity factor alone, as no one knows what Punk will do once the cage door slams shut.
No one but him and his teammates, that is.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Fabricio Werdum was originally set to face Ben Rothwell in the co-main event of the evening. But after "Big Ben" was forced to bow out with an injury, UFC matchmakers called on Travis Browne to step in and face "Vai Cavalo." It will be a rematch from two years ago that saw Fabricio earn a unanimous decision win over "Hapa." The win catapulted Werdum into a title fight. Can another win over the towering Heavyweight do it one more time?
Michael McBride will make his Octagon debut when he faces off against Nik Lentz. Also, Jason Gonzalez will make his official UFC debut after a stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), stepping in for an injured Erik Koch to face Drew Dober. Of course, C.M. Punk will make his grand entrance into the Octagon for the first time, as well.
Ben Rothwell bowed out of his heavyweight title against Werdum with an unfortunate injury, as did Erik Koch, who once again had his fight against Dober scratched due to injury.
Can Ian McCall just fight already?
After Justin Scoggins pulled out of their scheduled fight at UFC 201 because of weight-cutting issues a month ago, "Uncle Creepy "was booked immediately to take on Ray Borg at UFC 203. But, just three days prior to fight night Borg was pulled from the event after he fell ill.
At least "Uncle Creepy" is still getting paid, apparently.
How The "Prelims" Look:
The "Prelims" undercard has plenty of intriguing fights to get you warmed up for main card action. Aside from the aforementioned Eye vs Correia bout, there are several well-known fighters and intriguing match ups taking place on both Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1. Among them is Ian McCall and Ray Borg, a Flyweight bout that could lead to fireworks. Also, Brad Tavares looks to right his ship against Caio Magalhaes while the always-entertaining Yancy Medeiros looks to hand Sean Spencer his third straight defeat.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
This portion is typically reserved for fighters who could be fighting for their jobs today, rather than contenders or title challengers needing victory.
When it comes to the women's division, cuts are rarely made given the fact that rosters aren't as deep as matchmakers would want them to be. That said, Jessica Eye still needs a win in the worst way, as she has dropped three straight and four of five overall. A win over former title contender Bethe Correia will go along way in breathing new life into her combat career. And she'll get the chance to do it in front of her hometown crowd, too.
Interest Level: 9/10
There are many people who are coming for the C.M. Punk show, but staying for the mini Heavyweight tournament. And that's okay, some won't admit it, but the curiosity level for Punk's debut is sky high. Sure, he's no Brock Lesnar (no one is), but people are eager to see what he can actually do in the MMA world.
Personally, I'm eager to see if Overeem can finally reach the highest peak of the sport and capture the 265-pound title that will put a nice exclamation point on his combat career. That said, Miocic has a chance to solidify himself as the champ if he can take out "The Reem."
UFC 203 Full Fight Card
UFC 203 PPV Main Event
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem
UFC 203 PPV Co-Main Event:
265 lbs.: Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne
UFC 203 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall
135 lbs.: Urijah Faber vs. Jimmie Rivera
115 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Joanne Calderwood
UFC 203 FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Bethe Correia vs. Jessica Eye
145 lbs.: Nik Lentz vs. Michael McBride
265 lbs.: Caio Magalhaes vs. Brad Tavares
185 lbs.: Francimar Barroso vs. C.B. Dollaway
UFC 203 Fight Pass "Prelims" (7 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Yancy Medeiros vs. Sean Spencer
170 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Jason Gonzalez
For much more on the upcoming UFC 203 event click here.