There might not be a title on the line at UFC 202, but the stakes are still incredibly high.
The main event, of course, will put Conor McGregor's star power on the line as he looks to avenge his only loss in the UFC Octagon.
Then there's the co-main event featuring Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Glover Teixeira. The winner will likely become No. 1 title contender to Daniel Cormier's crown assuming Jon Jones doesn't come back any time soon.
Even the undercard features a bout with some title implications as Cody Garbrandt looks to make his claim to be the next title challenger against Takeya Mizugaki after consecutive first-round finishes.
It's not an event fans will want to miss. Here's a look at the complete schedule and odds from Odds Shark along with some predictions for the biggest fights on the card.
|Main Card||10 p.m. PPV|
|Welterweight||Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz||McGregor -130|
|Light Heavyweight||Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira||Johnson -200|
|Welterweight||Rick Story vs. Donald Cerrone||Cerrone -165|
|Welterweight||Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Mike Perry||Lim -300|
|Welterweight||Tim Means vs. Sabah Homasi||Means -450|
|Prelims||8 p.m. Fox Sports 1|
|Bantamweight||Cody Garbrandt vs. Takeya Mizugaki||Garbrandt -550|
|Women's Bantamweight||Raquel Pennington vs. Elizabeth Phillips||Pennington -265|
|Featherweight||Artem Lobov vs. Chris Avila||Lobov -120|
|Women's Strawweight||Randa Markos vs. Cortney Casey||Markos -140|
|Prelims||6:30 p.m. Fight Pass|
|Welterweight||Neil Magny vs. Lorenz Larkin||Magny -140|
|Welterweight||Colby Covington vs. Max Griffin||Covington -300|
|Middleweight||Alberto Uda vs. Marvin Vettori||Vettori -165|
UFC.com; Odds via Odds Shark
Undercard Main Event: Cody Garbrandt vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Cody Garbrandt comes in as the biggest favorite on the card, and it's pretty easy to see why. He's been as hot as anyone in the UFC lately with a first-round finish over fellow bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida via first-round finish.
Now, Garbrandt has his eyes set on champion Dominick Cruz. He's already making the case as to why a win over the veteran Mizugaki should earn him a title shot, per John Morgan of MMAjunkie:
(Cruz) got a title shot after beating Takeya, so why don’t I? I have had two straight first-round knockouts. I’m undefeated. I’m an exciting fighter. I’m the most talked about fighter in my division. I think that fight between me and Dominick stylistically is what people want to see. He knows that. … It’s hard to deny me. I’m going in there and knocking guys out and calling my shot and calling what round I’m knocking them out.
It's a smart move on Garbrandt's part. Mizugaki is the perfect opponent for him to showcase his skills against, as he's a polished striker with the ability to change the context of a fight with one strike. The Japanese fighter is a savvy veteran who won't be afraid to engage in some exchanges that will allow him to showcase that.
Garbrandt knows he needs a big performance if he wants to vault from No. 8 in the bantamweight rankings to a shot against the champion.
Expect him to do just that as Mizugaki's toughness allows him some time to show off the progress he's made since beating Almeida.
Prediction: Garbrandt via second-round TKO
The Co-Main: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira
Lost in the endless hype of McGregor and Diaz is an absolute slobberknocker of a light heavyweight fight.
Teixeira has 15 career wins by knockout himself, including back-to-back finishes of Rashad Evans and Patrick Cummins. Rumble is the consummate power puncher, and UFC recently summed up his track record of knocking opponent's out via Twitter:
Someone is going down.
Johnson's status as a favorite shouldn't come as a surprise. Since joining the light heavyweight division, he's been a one-man wrecking crew whose only loss came at the hands of current champion Daniel Cormier.
There is a path to victory for Teixeira, though. Four of Johnson's five career losses have come by way of submission, and the Brazilian has seven career submission wins. Combine that with cardio issues that Johnson has had in the past and a clear plan for Teixeira emerges.
In order to pull off the upset, Teixeira will need to weather the early storm and find a way to get Johnson to the ground.
That's easier said than done, though. Johnson's ability to put an opponent down at any time with just one strike can't be underestimated. His opponent will have to do a phenomenal job of smothering him early or suffer the consequences.
The most likely outcome is that Teixeira suffers those consequences.
Prediction: Johnson via first-round knockout.
The Main Event: Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz
Johnson, Teixeira and Garbrandt all staking claims to future title shots is well and good, but people are tuning into UFC 202 for the McGregor and Diaz show.
McGregor's title isn't on the line, but it feels like his legacy is.
Is he a great featherweight champion or something more?
On one hand, it isn't extravagant to think that a calculating fighter like McGregor could use a full fight camp focusing on the right opponent to come up with the perfect game plan and avenge his loss.
It's also perfectly acceptable to think that no matter how much game-planning McGregor does, the size and style disparity might just be too much to make up.
The burning question coming into this fight is just how good McGregor is. The first fight happened in questionable circumstances for both fighters. McGregor fighting at 170 pounds for the first time on 11 days notice, Diaz taking the fight in the same time frame.
Now, there's no excuses for either, and McGregor has a chance to define what his legacy is going to be.
Although a McGregor win would be a great story and is absolutely in the realm of possibility, it's much more likely that Diaz once again picks him apart with his jab and submits him when his never-ending cardio becomes a bigger factor.
Prediction: Diaz via fourth-round submission