With UFC 200 coming in July, imagine being a fighter on the UFC 199 card. You’re being treated as an afterthought – at best, an hors-d’oeuvre – ahead of the biggest fight card in the history of the sport. But don’t overlook what is shaping up to being a pretty solid night of fights in Inglewood, California, on June 4th.
Unfortunately, the original main event, middleweight champ Luke Rockhold rematching Chris Weidman, was scrapped due to Weidman getting injured.
However, the UFC had time to find a worthy replacement as long time UFC veteran, Michael Bisping got the nod to take the fight on short notice.
There is another title up for grabs, too, as Dominick Cruz defends his bantamweight belt against long time rival Urijah Faber.
The rest of the card is pretty stacked, but today I am going to break down the two title fights and give you my picks.
Luke Rockhold (-1000) vs. Michael “The Count” Bisping (+700)
The last time these two fought was back in 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Unfortunately for “The Count” (28-7), he was submitted via guillotine choke in the second round, which is still the only submission loss of Bisping’s career. Since that setback, the brash Brit has rattled off three wins in a row, including a unanimous decision victory over Anderson Silva back in February.
The TUF 3 veteran has been in the UFC for ten years and has fought 25 times, but he’s never had a title shot. Now he finally gets his chance, but it comes on just two weeks’ notice against a very tough opponent.
Rockhold (15-2) has been on a tear, winning five fights in a row including knocking off former champ Chris Weidman to secure some gold around his waist back in December. The current champ was preparing for a rematch with Weidman, but he has to be salivating over the thought of getting another chance to punch Bisping in the face. These two do not like each other, and quite frankly, Rockhold is a stylistic nightmare for “The Count.”
It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Although Bisping hasn’t shown any signs of decline, the last time these two faced off, Rockhold threw better striking combos. The body kicks seemed to do Bisping in and, although the 37-year-old threw a ton of punches of his own, they rarely connected.
I see the rematch playing out the same way. The California native will strike his way to victory like he did in the first time. Bisping is going to have to avoid the nasty kicks if he wants to win, and it might be hard to do so when he’s also trying to avoid the power that Rockhold possesses in his hands. Rockhold is just a complete fighter and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Predicted winner: Luke Rockhold
Dominick Cruz (-700) vs. Urijah Faber (+500)
This is one of the most heated rivalries in MMA history. Back in 2007, a green Cruz (21-1) lost to an in-his-prime Faber (33-8) via submission. That remains the only blemish on Cruz’s record, and he would go onto capture the bantamweight title in 2010.
After a couple of tough title-fight losses in the featherweight division, Faber (33-8) dropped back down to 135 pounds and thus set up a rematch in 2011. Dominick got the better of the “California Kid” that night and “Cruz-ed” to an easy decision victory at UFC 132.
Fast forward five years and we finally get to put this rivalry to bed. While the scorecard reads one-all, this is hardly a toss-up fight. Faber’s skill set has declined while Cruz has miraculously not lost a step. That’s hard to understand considering how long the San Diego native was on the shelf with multiple injuries.
“The Dominator’s” comeback is the one of the greatest in the history of the sport. Most athletes would have retired, but instead Cruz came back from a two-year hiatus and won his title back from T.J. Dillashaw last January.
Though five years have passed since their last fight, I don’t see this one playing out any differently. Cruz is just too good; he’s too fast and has cardio for days. Faber, although a legend in his own right, is 37-years-old and is starting to look slower. There is something to be said for a great game plan, and you know the old vet will have a strategy, but unless Faber is able to take the fight to the ground (which is unlikely) or lands a lucky power-shot (which is even less likely), I don’t see how he wins. The relative geriatric will fade the longer the fight goes.
Look for Cruz to either finish this fight in the later rounds or win via unanimous decision.
Predicted winner: Dominick Cruz
Main Card Quick Picks
Max Holloway vs. Ricardo Lamas – Predicted winner: Holloway
Dan Henderson vs. Hector Lombard – Predicted winner: Lombard
B.J. Penn vs. Cole Miller – Predicted winner: Cole Miller