This weekend is a weird one for MMA. UFC 203 can be seen live in Australia this Sunday morning. Prelims are set to start at 10am, the main card should start somewhere around midday. UFC 203 is a Pay-Per-View (PPV) event, so either prepare to fork out $50 on Fight Pass or Foxtel, or get ready to spend a few hours in the pub.
UFC 203 has some great match-ups in the main card and both preliminary cards. Unfortunately, this event also has a bit of a ‘freak-show’ element to it. Harking back to the days of Pride, we will bear witness to a professional wrestler going up against an up-and-coming MMA athlete. We saw Brock Lesnar grace the octagon with his presence earlier this year, but this one is a bit harder to justify… Phil Brooks, also known as CM Punk, will make his MMA debut.
The main event of this card has Stipe Miocic facing Alistair Overeem for the UFC Heavyweight title. Overeem has been looking fantastic lately, putting Andrei Arlovski away with some brutal front kicks to the body in his last fight. The current Heavyweight Champion, Stipe Micocic, has also been having a good run, putting Fabricio Werdum to sleep with a right hand – while moving backwards – earlier this year. We’re so very excited for this one.
Speaking of former champion Fabricio Werdum, Travis Browne will face him in the co-main event. Originally Werdum was meant to face Ben Rothwell, but early in August Rothwell had to pull out due to injury. Travis Browne has had a mixed-bag of wins and losses over the past two years and is looking to avenge his 2014 loss to Werdum.
At this point in his career Browne’s back is against the wall. A win could help him maintain his position in the elite of the heavyweight division, while a loss could put him well away from any future title shots. With both athletes in desperate need of a win, we have a strong feeling that this one will be a candidate for fight of the night.
While here at the Neversphere we don’t really want to get into professional wrestling; this situation needs addressing. UFC 203 will see the MMA debut of CM Punk, the straight-edged professional wrestling super-star. It’s clear why the UFC is letting Brooks compete with no MMA experience – he’s a big name draw. What isn’t clear is why the athletic commission is letting Brooks compete in a professional league with no prior experience.
Brooks even admitted he’s struggling with the task of preparing for the fight…
While you have to admire Brooks’ cojones for putting himself out there, you’d think there could be a more appropriate path for the WWE athlete/entertainer to fight on the big stage. Brooks made one smart choice by taking some time, two years, to train with Duke Roufus. Well into his 30s, and far from the most athletic man on the WWE roster, it will be interesting to see how much Brooks was able to pick up in such a short period.
The UFC hasn’t been particularly kind to Brooks by putting him against Mickey Gall. In his UFC debut Gall dropped his opponent, Mike Jackson, with a right hand before submitting him with a rear naked choke. Despite going up against a professional wrestler, Gall should have the advantage if the fight hits the mat. However, if Brooks looks anything like he does on his internet training videos, look for Gall to keep it standing. A highlight knockout of a well-known star could put Gall on a quick upward trajectory and he knows it.
Let’s be real, do we really need to see this? With such a huge roster, I’m sure the UFC could give that main card spot to someone who has earned the right to be there. Such is life.
There is one positive. Brooks is famously ‘straight-edge’, no drugs or alcohol. That should mean no nasty surprises from USADA, like there were with Brock Lesnar… was anyone really surprised though?
Recently some unfortunate news broke. Ray Borg had to pull out of his fight with Ian McCall just days before the two were scheduled to fight. This is the second time in a row McCall’s opponent has cancelled the fight at the last minute. It must be incredibly frustrating for the UFC flyweight as he hasn’t been able to compete since early 2015. McCall explained it best on Instagram, saying ‘shit happens, kids…’
Here’s what to expect…
Stipe Miocic vs Alistair Overeem – Heavyweight Championship
Fabricio Werdum vs Travis Browne – Heavyweight
Phil Brooks vs Mickey Gall – Welterweight
Urijah Faber vs Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight
Jessica Andrade vs Joanne Calderwood – Women’s Strawweight
Jessica Eye vs Bethe Correia – Women’s Bantamweight
Caio Magalhaes vs Brad Tavares – Middleweight
Nik Lentz vs Michael McBride – Lightweight
CB Dollaway vs Francimar Barroso – Light Heavyweight
Early Fight Pass Prelims
Yancy Medeiros vs Sean Spencer – Welterweight
Drew Dober vs Jason Gonzalez – Lightweight