A debuting fighter who garnered his fame in a professional wrestling ring is the biggest attraction for Saturday night's top mixed martial arts event from Cleveland, Ohio.
That bout supersedes the main event, which features a hometown hero making the first defense of his heavyweight title—and no, this isn't a Bellator card.
CM Punk will make his first-ever appearance in the UFC's Octagon when he squares off with Mickey Gall in a main card bout at UFC 203. The WWE community and the MMA faithful will be watching to see if Punk falls flat on his face, or if he can pull off an improbable win.
By the way, there's a pretty significant main event on tap. Cleveland native Stipe Miocic will attempt to successfully defend his UFC heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem.
In the video below from the UFC on YouTube, the prime participants discuss their upcoming bouts
Don't count on this one lasting the full five rounds. Here's a look at the viewing information, card and predictions for the night's biggest fights.
The predicted winner's names are in bold.
Main Card (on Pay-Per-View) - 10 p.m. ET
- Stipe Miocic (c) (15-2) vs. Alistair Overeem (41-14, 1 NC)
- Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) vs. Travis Browne (18-4-1)
- CM Punk (0-0) vs. Mickey Gall (2-0)
- Urijah Faber (33-9) vs. Jimmie Rivera (19-1)
- Jessica Andrade (14-5) vs. Joanne Calderwood (11-1)
Prelims (on FS1) - 8 p.m. ET
- Jessica Eye (11-5, 1 NC) vs. Bethe Correia (9-2)
- Brad Tavares (13-4) vs. Caio Magalhaes (9-2)
- Nik Lentz (26-7-2, 1NC) vs. Michael McBride (8-1)
- C.B. Dolloway (15-8) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-5)
Prelims (on UFC Fight Pass) - 7 p.m. ET
- Yancy Medeiros (12-4) vs. Sean Spencer (12-5)
- Drew Dober (16-7) vs. Jason Gonzalez (10-2)
Gall Will Batter Punk
Rarely will you see a 37-year-old fighter lose to a 24-year-old because of a lack of experience, but that will be the specifics of Punk's undoing.
Gall has had only two pro fights, but he's trained in MMA for much longer and more exclusively than Punk.
To the contrary, Punk's trainer Duke Roufus believes his fighter has turned a corner in his preparation. Per Chuck Mindenhall of SB Nation, Roufos said:
"You come in with a peace of mind knowing that you’re ready. You know that you put the work in, and you know you put in the dedication. And the enthusiasm. I think the turning point was when he finally booked the fight, because it’s where we saw him grow."
The crash course Punk has received over the past 12-16 months is simply not enough to win a professional MMA bout against a respectable opponent.
It would be silly to expect him to win a fight against a man 13 years his junior, who is also more heavily invested in the sport.
A Punk win would be best for business, but that tagline only matters with his previous employer. Gall will win and it won't even be close.
Expect to see Punk bloodied, battered and fielding questions about whether he plans to keep fighting after suffering a defeat.
Werdum Is Still Superior To Browne
Fabricio Werdum has already faced Travis Browne once. The former champion dismantled his opponent in their first bout, and there's no reason to believe we'll see anything different in the rematch.
Werdum's game has more layers, and Browne has looked like a shell of himself over the past two years.
Bet on Werdum putting on a show in what will be a statement-making performance as he attempts to earn a chance to regain the title he lost to Miocic in his last fight.
Overeem Will Be The New Champion
Overeem is the best heavyweight in the world today, and he'll prove that emphatically when he knocks out Miocic in front of his home crowd.
Alistair has always had the physical tools to be dominant, but he hasn't always fought smart and been mentally plugged in.
That doesn't appear to be the case in his last four fights. He's been destroying top-notch heavyweights, and that includes Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Roy Nelson.
Miocic is next.
The champion is a solid fighter with proven power, but Overeem has demonstrated the ability to stick to a game plan while harvesting fight-ending power shots.
The combination of patience and power has brought Overeem to this opportunity, and he's going to take control of it with both hands.