16 for 16: No. 5 UFC 200
December 28, 2016
Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor were thought to be shoe-ins for this event at one point. But, a set of circumstances had Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes as the headliners for the biggest event in company history.
Rousey was not ready to come back to the Octagon for UFC 200 due to scheduling and her want to take time away from the sport. McGregor lost at a power play with the Fertittas as he attempted to broker less media for the event. Instead, he claimed to have retired and the UFC moved to Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier as the headliner. Also, Brock Lesnar returned to the Octagon.
This all sounded good as there would be two title fights plus Brock Lesnar.
The only problem was that a Jon Jones out of competition USADA test was flagged just days before the event and Jones was provisionally suspended due to the test. In a hastily put together press conference, Jones proclaimed his innocence despite the failed drug test.
Dana White was upset as Jones’ drug test failure caused the company extra expense to repackage UFC 200 and scramble to find an opponent for Daniel Cormier. Embedded caught up with White when he broke the news to Cormier and the light heavyweight champ was devastated. White got Anderson Silva to take the fight without any preparation. Maybe a couple years ago, Silva would have drawn interest, but he was more of an afterthought and did not do much in his fight with Cormier.
Lesnar was impressive against Mark Hunt and even showed some humanity in his post-fight speech, unlike his rant 100 UFCs ago. Of course, this did not have a happy ending as Lesnar USADA tests were flagged and the only reason he was able to compete was that the results were not made known until after the fight. It brought up the issue of USADA allowing a waiver to Lesnar of being a tested UFC athlete.
Lesnar made $2.5 million for his fight against Hunt. After news of Lesnar’s drug test failure, Hunt was outraged and demanded a portion of Lesnar’s purse. Hunt made $700,000 at UFC 200.
The event drew criticism as there were reports of a lot of empty seats for the prelims and then people leaving before Tate-Nunes.
UFC 200 was the debut for the company at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and was the culmination of International Fight Week. Despite the pre-event issues, the attendance and gate were record-setting making the event the largest MMA gate in Nevada history. It drew 15,154 for a gate of $10,746,248.
It was a landmark event for the company as it had produced 200 PPV events. An unthinkable achievement several years prior. And as we now know the big announcement didn’t occur until Sunday after the fights.