In a span of approximately 24 hours’ time, UFC 200 went through three different possible headliners.
The chain of events -- or main events, if you prefer -- was triggered by the news that Jon Jones had failed on out-of-competition drug test on June 16 and would be removed from Saturday’s originally proposed feature against Daniel Cormier. At an impromptu press conference on Wednesday night, it was announced that a three-round heavyweight clash between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt would be promoted to top billing.
“When I was sitting right here and Daniel was standing there [at the press conference], we were a little shell shocked,” UFC President Dana White said. “My whole team was trying to regroup. You guys really don’t understand. When something like this goes down, I don’t know if you saw the front of the building at the T-Mobile [Arena on Thursday]; they were ripping down Jon Jones picture. We were changing all the commercials. My staff has literally been going 24 hours, more than 24 hours.”
But as the promotion frantically searched to find a replacement opponent willing to fight Cormier on virtually zero notice, White realized that the only undisputed championship fight on the card would make a more suitable headliner.
And with that, Miesha Tate’s bantamweight title defense against Amanda Nunes became the main event for the Las Vegas-based promotion’s bicentennial extravaganza.
“Miesha is the woman who beat the woman who beat the woman,” White said. “She’s the champ. What Miesha accomplished a few fights ago, you can’t disrespect that. She should be the main event. She deserves to be. The other title fight is an interim title fight. Miesha Tate deserves to be the main event.”
White is referring to Tate’s fifth-round submission of Holly Holm, who shocked the MMA world by knocking out the previously unbeaten Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 this past November. That victory, along with Tate’s long-running feud with Rousey, gives “Cupcake” a decent amount of name value.
“With the recent news of Jones being pulled from [UFC 200] I can honestly say I am even more motivated to go out there and put on the fight of my life performance,” Tate wrote on Instagram. “I trained so hard for this moment and nothing will stand in the way of my goals, so sit back and be entertained.”