The UFC returns for the second straight week, as they invade The Forum in Inglewood, California. Headlining the card is a rematch between Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold and first time title challenger Michael Bisping. Originally, Luke Rockhold’s first title defense was to come against the man he took the belt away from, Chris Weidman. However, Weidman pulled out with a neck injury and in stepped Michael Bisping on two weeks notice. Fresh off beating Anderson Silva, Bisping is coming into this fight with momentum like never before. And despite being a heavy underdog, I believe we are in store for a better fight then anticipated.
Also on the card, a decade long rivalry will finally see it’s trilogy, as Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz takes on “The California Kid” Urijah Faber. In what could be MMA’s greatest rivalry, with the amounts of back and forth banter, we should be in store for a classic. Now, I wasn’t all for this rematch initially, as I didn’t feel Urijah Faber had quite warranted another title shot. But, the amount of trash talking and promotion for this fight has had me on the edge of my seat.
Some other notables on this stacked card include an all important 145 lbs. bout between Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas. Holloway looks to make it eight nine straight wins and undoubtedly align himself for a title shot. At 185 lbs. we have a slugfest of a contest on our hands, as the legend Dan Henderson takes on Hector Lombard. I would not blink in this one, as I expect chaos in the opening round. At 155 lbs. the “King” returns as Bobby Green takes on Dustin Poirier in what be an exciting contest. Poirier is undefeated since he returned to the lightweight division, but to continue to climb the totem, he has to get through Green. Another fight I’m looking forward to is Brian Ortega against Clay Guida, which is going to have an unbelievable pace to it. Anyways, enough pre-fight build up talk…To the Predictions!
UFC 199 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping – First off, I couldn’t be more happy for Michael Bisping, as he finally gets his due – a title shot. It’s been ten years in the UFC and twenty five UFC fights later, but on two weeks notice Michael Bisping will step into the octagon to fight for a belt for the first time ever. As for the fight, I don’t think the odds do it favor. Yes, Rockhold has less miles on him and is the more skilled fighter, but Bisping features some of the best fight IQ in the UFC. If he stays on the outside, using his usual guerilla warefare like tactics, he certainly can frustrate Rockhold and drag it into the later rounds. As for Rockhold, he’s as skilled and well rounded as any mixed martial artist on the planet. It’s no fluke that he’s the UFC Middleweight Champion and he’s going to prove that in his first title defense. Albeit I think that Bisping is going to make this a fight, if Rockhold pressures Bisping, he can put him away early. Bisping has never dealt well with pressure and if you watch his last fight against Anderson Silva, everytime he was pressured to the fence, he was in trouble. Unfortunately too, he’s in trouble in this fight too, as I have Luke Rockhold retaining. It’s going to be a cat and mouse game for three rounds, but in the fourth Rockhold’s going to catch and finish Bisping. Rockhold via 4th round TKO!
135 lbs.: UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber – This may be a trilogy fight, but the decade long rivalry is not going to come to an end after the fight concludes. These are just two fighters that will never see eye to eye, which in reality, makes a rivalry so special. As for the fight, this will be the first time Dominick Cruz has fought twice in the same year since 2011. It’s been a long road for the UFC Bantamweight Champion, as injuries have plagued his career and perhaps his peak period. His opponent, Urijah Faber has been winner throughout his career, just not when it comes to title fights. His UFC record in non-title fights is 9-1, with his only loss coming in a Featherweight bout against Frankie Edgar. Basically, he is undefeated in UFC non-title fights in the bantamweight division. In UFC title fights, his record is 0-3. He just can never get over the hump and I think that trend continues here. Dominick Cruz has the best footwork in the UFC, as he’s so darn elusive that you can’t hit him. I’d call him the Floyd Mayweather of the Octagon. Now, Faber is a gamer and is going to bring it, but if he can’t daze or knock out Cruz – I can’t see him winning via decision. Cruz is going to use his volume and footwork to pick apart Faber and I expect even throw and occasional takedown in there. How can you pick against someone who fought once in over fours years, then challenges and takes the belt from the best bantamweight at the time in T.J Dillashaw? So with that, I expect Cruz to cruise (See what I did there) his way to a decision victory.
145 lbs.: Max Holloway vs. Ricardo Lamas – What a sick fight in the featherweight division, as Max Holloway looks to make it nine straight wins. His opponent, Ricardo Lamas will look to build off his victory over Deigo Sanchez. Before I dive into this, can Holloway get a title shot? Or are we going to keep an active champion who’s more interested in fighting out of his weight class then defending his belt? Anyways, I always knew that Holloway was special. Before his UFC debut, I told my cousin that this kid is going to be good. He reminds me of a combination between the Diaz brothers and Anthony Pettis. He would go on to lose that debut fight to the already established Dustin Poirier. Since then, he’s gone 11-2 and he’s still only 24 years old. As for Ricardo Lamas, the former title challengeris enjoying some success of late, winning three of his last four fights. He’s also seen this type of hype train before, as Dennis Bermudez was on a seven fight win streak heading into their bout. Lamas ended that streak in the very first round. As for the fight, I’m going to side with Holloway. His striking is elite and his grappling is good enough to fend off Ricardo Lamas. I’ve always though Lamas has all the tools to be a world champion if he sharpened up his striking, as it would really open his grappling strengths. Anyways, I have Holloway winning this via late TKO.
185 lbs.: Dan Henderson vs. Hector Lombard – Can you say first round fireworks? The 45 year old legend Dan Henderson returns to the Octagon for perhaps his last fight. He’s got a tough task on his though, as he takes on the well rounded and heavy handed Hector Lombard. Henderson has hit a rough patch in his career, as he’s dropped six of his last eight fights. He’s also been finished in his last four fights, which worries health-wise and what could come about in this fight. His counterpart, Lombard was once regarded as the best middleweight on the planet. However, his run in the UFC hasn’t been quiet up to par with that statement. He’s gone 3-3 with one no contest in his UFC tenure, so this fight is really important for his career. Now, he’s moving back up to Middleweight, which could be due to how hard the weight cut to 170 lbs. was on him. He looks less drawn out and much healthier as a Middleweight. As for the fight, it’s a toss up. Oddsmakers might favor Hector Lombard, but you have too flat footed fighters who stand and bang. Lombard is more explosive and has more tools in his tools chest – but I can’t pick against Dan Henderson. I refuse to, so take this with a semi grain of salt, but I predict that Dan Henderson will win by KO!
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Dustin Poirier – This fight is straight fire, as we can expect and all out war. These two men have been chirping back and forth, so I’m interested to see if any of them are interested to even grapple. In the past 18 months, Green has been inactive due to injuries and personal tragedies. It’s been a rough patch for Green, so it’s good to see get back into the Octagon. His counterpart, Dustin Poirier is on a tear since moving back up to the Lightweight division. He’s finished the likes of Carlos Deigo Ferreira and Yancy Medieros in the first round and decisively defeated Joe Duffy. As for this fight, I’m more obliged to side with Poireira who has clear momentum and unlike Green, has been active. However if Green could just stop mocking his opponents and fight, the man could truly be a title contender one day. He’s top notch in the stand up department and he’s an excellent wrestler, despite rarely using it. Ughh, I’m going to predict that…Green wins via split decision.
UFC 199 FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Cole Miller vs. Alex Caceres – This fight went from B.J. Penn against Dennis Siver to B.J. Penn against Cole Miller to finally Cole Miller against Alex Caceres. It’s a really bummer that B.J. Penn was pulled from the card, as I was really intrigued to see what his time at Jackson-Winks had done to him as a fighter. Anyways, this fight is still a good despite all the changes. Cole Miller isn’t the best striker, but his reach can give any fighters fits. His grappling is his strength, as once he gets those long limbs on you – it’s going to be a short night. His opponent, Alex Caceres is a striker that seems to have all the potential to be something special, but always fails expectations. He once was on a four fight win streak and then all the sudden, he lost three in a row. But, he’s back in the Featherweight division and is coming off a win. I think he makes it two in a row, as he avoid Miller’s grappling and outpoints him on the feet. I got Caceres via decision.
145 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Brian Ortega – Awesome matchmaking, as this might be my favorite fight on the card. The pace is going to be up tempo, with tons of action on the feet and the ground. Clay Guida is looking to get back in the win column, as well as apparently keep the win-loss pattern he’s had going since 2013. In all seriousness, Guida is a true veteran of the sport. He’s been around since 2003, has fought 48 times and was once the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. This fight though, has all the elements of a “Changing of the Guard”. His opponent, Brian Ortega is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. Whatever cloth the Diaz brothers were cut from, Ortega was as well. He comes to fight and is comfortable wherever the bout may go. He might be the most active fighter off his back in the UFC, as he will continuously punch you or look for submission attempts. Also, although he’s dubbed T-City, you might as well call him “The Comeback Kid”. In his fights against Thiago Tavares and Deigo Brandao, he was arguably losing both fights before pulling off third round finishes. As you can tell I’m pretty giddy about the kid and unfortunately for Guida, it’s going to be Ortega’s night. His volume is going to reign supreme, as I’m going to predict that the Scarecrow, I mean Cillian Murphy, I mean Brian Ortega will win via decision in your “Fight of the Night”.
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. James Vick – Will this be the fight that James Vick finally earns some respect? The dubbed Texecutioner is undefeated and a perfect 5-0 in the UFC. He starched a top prospect in Jake Matthews and yet finds himself on the prelims still. His opponent, Beneil Dariush is a talent at Lightweight. Despite a setback against Michael Chiesa, Dariush has still won five of his last six fights and is top ten material in my book. Vick is a gritty and tough striker, who favors the use of volume and pressure to take out his opponents. Dariush is a cerebral assassin, who will pick you apart with technical striking. His grappling abilities are elite too, which is going to be a very big issue for Vick to overcome. In fact, it’s going to lead to his demise in this fight. I believe that Dariush will frustrate Vick on the feet, take him down and dominate him in top control. With that, I have Dariush winning via submission.
115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Jessica Andrade – In this bout, Jessica Andrade is dropping down from the Women’s bantamweight division (135 lbs.). That’s a ridiculous 20 pounds, which I expect to play a very big role cardio-wise in this fight. As for her opponent, Penne hasn’t fought in nearly year, so there could be some rust. Her last fight was a brutal one, as she took on Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and despite losing, showed incredible heart and toughness. As for this fight, I like Penne. She may not be be great on her feet, but she has the length and reach to frustrate Andrade. Penne also is an awesome grappler and finds comfort on bottom or top. Her long legs are such an advantage, whether being used to sweep an opponent or submit them. So with that, I’m going to predict that Penne will win via submission.
UFC 199 Fight Pass Prelims (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. Sean Strickland – Tom Breese is one the most talented up and up and coming fighters in the Welterweight division. However, his last fight against Keita Nakamura left a bitter taste in my mouth. He didn’t show the talent I saw in his first two UFC fights, especially the one where he dismantled Cathal Pendred. Now, Sean Strickland is no world beater, but the volume he outputs is often enough to beat his opponents. I also like his grappling ability and ground and pound when he’s in top control. This is a tough fight to call, but I’m going to predict that Sean Strickland edges out Tom Breese via split decision.
205 lbs.: Luiz Henrique da Silva vs. Jonathan Wilson – This fight pits two fairly raw light heavyweights, both looking to go 2-0 in the UFC. Luiz Henrique da Silva is coming off a triumphant UFC debut, as he showed toughness and pure heart. After getting tee’d off in round one, da Silva weathered the storm and won by TKO in the second round over Ildemar Alcantara. His opponent, Jonathan Wilson only needed 50 seconds in his UFC debut, dismantling Chris Dempsey via knockout. I think the UFC might have something special with Wilson too, as he has legit power and is very athletic. We all know, the UFC Light Heavyweight division could use and influx of talent, so this could be the blossoming of a talent. Anyways, someone’s O has to go in this one and I think it’s going to be da Silva’s. Wilson is gifted and his nickname “Johnny Bravo” is absolutely amazing. So with that, I got Wilson via KO.
185 lbs.: Kevin Casey vs. Elvis Mutapcic – Isn’t it ironic how Kevin Casey’s nickname is the King and he’s fighting Elvis, who’s also the King. In my opinion, that’s matchmaking at it’s finest by the UFC! As for the fight, I am more to enticed to pick Elvis Mutapcic. Kevin Casey is an absolute monster for round one, but after that, his cardio is non existent. Mutapcic is boxer, who has good takedown defense and serviceable cardio enough to outpoint Casey in the later rounds. So with that, I have Mutapcic via decision.
155 lbs.: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Marco Polo Reyes – If you’re thinking “Stun Gun” dropped down to lightweight, you’d be incorrect. If you’re thinking the popular pool game Marco Polo is based off Marco Polo Reyes, you’d also be incorrect. If you’re thinking I know very little about these guys, you’d actually be correct. Mini-DHK via decision.