UFC 199

Rockhold x Bisping 2 / Cruz x Faber 3  - Picks & Predictions

How is this card so phenomenal if Inglewood is always up to no good?

PICK vs. OPPONENT

Rockhold x Bisping
Cruz x Faber
Holloway x Lamas
Lombard x Henderson
Poirier x Green
Ortega x Guida
Dariush x Vick
Andrade x Penne
Miller x Caceres
Strickland x Breese
Casey x Mutapcic
Kim x Reyes

DEVIL’S PARLAY: $6.66

Ortega (-280)
Poirier (-225)
Lombard (-400)
Faber (+350)

to win $66.78

PREDICTIONS

Luke Rockhold x Michael Bisping

Well. The time is upon us. Bisping has been hovering around the top ten for the entirety of his ten year UFC career, spanning two different weight classes. He’s a UFC staple and one of the guys that turned me into a fanatic about this sport. After losing multiple title-eliminator fights, most people cemented him as a gatekeeper who was never going to get his title shot. Now, he gets his chance after stepping in for an injured Chris Weidman on two weeks’ notice. That’s only two weeks to prepare for Luke “King of All Men” Rockhold, who is unquestionably one of the most talented and athletic fighters in the UFC and has already handed Bisping a pretty one-sided beatdown in 2014.

Michael Bisping is coming fresh off a victory over the one-and-only Anderson Silva. That’s right, he beat Silva. Nobody saw that coming because Bisping’s cardio is unshakeable and his heart is unbreakable, which is always going to make him a dangerous opponent. He’s going to give you a fight, even in this post USADA era. I love the man.He has the second most wins in UFC history. He’s a legend. I had to say that because what’s coming next bums me out. 

Despite his storied career and battle-tested technique, I don’t see a way for Bisping to pull this off. Luke is a frightening, technical striker with world-class grappling which makes for an uncomfortable fight in every department. We know they both can go hard for five rounds, so, unfortunately, Bisping’s cardio won’t be much of a factor. Especially since I don’t see it lasting five rounds. Maybe three. I see Luke attacking the body from range to eliminate any advantage Bisping might have early, forcing Mike to block low, shoot in, or charge forward. What I don’t see is any of those options working out in this horrifying hypothetical. All glory to Bisping, especially on short notice, but I think Rockhold is just bringing a better version.

Dominick Cruz x Urijah Faber for the bantamweight belt

Bitter rivals! Bad blood! This feud is almost ten years old but it feels more heated than ever. Faber is the only blemish on Cruz’s record, but that was in 2007. Their rematch in 2011 was close, but Cruz, the champ at the time, took the victory. He held onto the belt until he was sidelined with an injury. For three years. Then he was sidelined for another two years. Then, in dramatic fashion, Cruz made his much-awaited return and snatched the belt away from TJ Dillashaw, who had looked unbeatable. In contrast, Faber has been frequenting the octagon a handful of times each year – tearing through just about everyone except champions. Ever since losing that rematch to Cruz, Faber hasn’t be able to touch gold. I guess this rubber match is only fair.

This is Faber’s second fight back at bantamweight after an unsuccessful attempt against the formidable Frankie Edgar at 145 pounds. Faber always gets to cut in line for the belt, but the top ten at 135 still has some shaking out to do and this is a fun fight in the meantime. Cruz’s style is puzzling, his footwork is excellent, and it seems to only have progressed despite taking so much time away from competition. 

Dominick Cruz may not be a power puncher, but he’ll still tag you and win most of the grappling scrambles he’s forced into. His biggest downfall is getting caught while he’s moving (always) which usually ends in a knockdown, or a slip, due to his erratic footwork. Contradicting again, Faber has a skillset that may get sharper, but will never change. Expect overhand rights, takedowns, level changes, and guillotines. I think Cruz knows these tricks too well and won’t be there to get hit. It’ll be a full-on five round affair, but the champ wins by mixing it up and deciding where the fight takes place. Cruz knows how to play the clock and do more than enough to win, which will frustrate Faber into a predictable game plan as the champ gets increasingly complex.


Addendum
Bisping wins by first round knockout, in one of the greatest story lines in UFC history. Phenomenal. How anyone can not be enthralled by MMA is beyond me. These athletes make for such intriguing characters, each with unreal talent and determination, striving for perfection in a sport that's nearly impossible. Nothing else can create such a genuine "holy shit!" moment.
All glory to Michael Bisping. I'm forever a fan and couldn't be happier for him. Almost exactly 100 UFC's after the worst loss of his career and he's got a belt around his waist. He was a future hall-of-famer long before this fight and will always be the UFC's best blue-collar success story. The UK gets a champ! It was a long time coming, believe you me.