The light heavyweight championship will not be on the line Saturday at UFC 200 in Las Vegas, but MMA fans and bettors will be treated to an exciting matchup nonetheless as future Hall of Famer Anderson “Spider” Silva (33-7, 1 No-Contest) has agreed to fight champion Daniel Cormier (17-1) in a three-round non-title bout.
Cormier was listed as a solid underdog against Jon “Bones” Jones before his opponent was pulled from the main event due to a positive test for a banned substance. But Cormier is a large -420 favorite (bet $420 to win $100) versus the former middleweight champ Silva, who is a +350 underdog (bet $100 to win $350).
Cormier had been waiting more than a year to try to avenge the only loss of his career, with Jones missing more than 15 months of action after a highly-publicized hit-and-run incident. Jones defeated Cormier via unanimous decision at UFC 182 on January 3, 2015.
However, Jones was later forced to vacate the title with Cormier claiming the belt following a third-round submission victory against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson via rear-naked choke at UFC 187. Cormier defended the championship with a split-decision win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 in what ended up as Fight of the Night.
This will be Silva’s third career bout at 205 pounds after winning his previous two in dominant fashion with first-round knockouts of Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 and Stephen Bonnar at UFC 153. He has not been the same fighter though since defeating Bonnar, going 0-3 with a NC following a positive test for banned substances himself in a win over Nate Diaz at UFC 183.
Two of the losses came against former middleweight champ Chris Weidman while the other was a UD defeat to current title holder Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 84 in London on February 27.
There will be a couple other titles up for grabs at UFC 200, with women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate (18-5) defending hers for the first time versus Amanda Nunes (12-4) in the new main event. Tate (-250) stole the belt away from Holly Holm with a fifth-round submission win by RNC at UFC 196 four months ago, and she is taking on Nunes (+210) while she waits on former champ Ronda Rousey to return to the Octagon.
Rousey is expected to be at UFC 200 to cheer on her boyfriend Travis Browne (18-3-1), who is facing former heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez (13-2) in the first fight on the main card. Velasquez has not fought since losing his title to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188 in Mexico City a year ago and is listed as a -300 favorite against Browne (+250).
Earlier in the night, Frankie Edgar (20-4-1) will meet Jose Aldo (25-2) in a rematch for the interim featherweight title. The fight is nearly a pick’em with Edgar a slight -115 favorite against Aldo (-105) after he lost the first meeting via UD at UFC 156.
Edgar is riding a five-bout winning streak while Aldo is coming off a 13-second knockout loss to current featherweight champ Conor McGregor at UFC 194 last December 12. Aldo had not lost in more than a decade, winning 18 in a row before falling to McGregor.