UFC 199: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don't have to
Rematches, grudge matches and two belts on the line. UFC 199 may just be the best card of the year.
MMA writers' 2016 records
Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 51-25
Bourbon Ben Kiely: 47-29
Luke Rockhold (15-2) vs. Michael Bisping (28-7)
DM: Let's look at this logically.
Luke Rockhold obliterated Bisping in the second round in 2014 when 'The Count' had a full camp under his belt.
Bisping is now 37 years old and Rockhold has finally reached his prime so what's to suggest that a Bisping on a few weeks notice will be able to do better than 2014 Bisping?
The Brit has made no secrets of his gameplan with which he intends to come out swinging as the champion will understandably be better conditioned. I just don't see how Bisping gets it done against the bigger, stronger, more athletic guy in Rockhold. Rockhold via TKO (round one).
BK: There have been so many twists and turns leading up to this main event that you could conceivably see it not going according to the script.
Bisping isn't the same fighter he was when he was in that submission loss against Rockhold. He's developed more as a fighter than the champion has since that that first bout, particularly in the mental part of the game. That being said, Rockhold has always been elite and the Brit hasn't looked like he's closed the gap in any area.
Rockhold claims he's injured and he was training for a completely different fighter in the form of Chris Weidman who pulled out on late notice. He's also a notoriously slow starter, who tends to take his time in the opening round and size up his opponents. Whereas Bisping is usually super-aggressive from the get-go.
If Bisping's going to upset the odds, he'll have to catch Rockhold cold in the opening exchanges. If he fails to do this, there's only one likely outcome. Rockhold via TKO (round two).
Dominick Cruz (21-1) vs. Urijah Faber (33-8)
DM: Dominick Cruz is, quite simply, the best bantamweight on the planet and as good as Faber is, he's probably the second or third best bantamweight on the planet.
That's not to say that Faber can't catch Cruz in a guillotine just like he did in 2007 but if you were to put your money on just one fighter to never repeat a mistake, it'd be Cruz.
In my eyes, he's the smartest fighter that's ever stepped foot in the Octagon and he'll have his strategy down to perfection.
He's going to keep Faber well on the outside and dance out of any danger that he poses. Cruz by UD.
BK: Urijah Faber may have inadvertently predicted his own downfall in the promotion of this fight.
"Check out the record, bud," he retorted as Cruz stated how he's beaten him before.
It's true that Faber once forced the tap from Cruz a long, long time ago, but you know what they say about fighters and losses. It seems as though Cruz has developed his game specifically to outclass the traditional, gritty American MMA fighter like Faber, whereas the California Kid has only gone on the decline.
The time when Faber was one of the most exciting and innovative fighters in the lighter divisions seems to be eons ago now, with arguably his last really impressive win coming against Michael McDonald in 2013. Since then, he's regressed, taken far less risks and has done just enough to scrape wins, whereas Cruz has been nothing short of sensational since returning from that extended lay-off with injury. Cruz by decision.
Max Holloway (15-3) vs. Ricardo Lamas (16-4)
DM: Give the man a Goddamn title shot.
Max Holloway is riding an eight-fight winning streak and he deserves a shot at the belt if he beats Lamas but he'll probably have to wait until 2017 unless Conor McGregor decides to vacate or is stripped for some reason.
In terms of match-ups, I love Holloway here. He's a better boxer than Lamas and while he may not have the wrestling pedigree of Lamas, he's got the Jiu-Jitsu game to work well off of his back and reverse any unfavourable positions. Holloway by decision.
BK: Don't count out Lamas in this one. On paper, Holloway should get the win with his superior striking and sheer physicality, but Lamas should have the advantage in the wrestling department.
At 5' 9", the Hawaiian's a big boy in the 145 lb division and he'll be very difficult to take down. However, Lamas had no problem bringing gifted wrestler Bermudez down to the mat, so you would nearly back him to do likewise against Blessed. Holloway by decision.
Dan Henderson (31-14) vs. Hector Lombard (34-5-1, 2 NC)
DM: These guys are still a thing?
Hendo has all the potential in the world if you drop your hands and stick your chin up in the air but I just don't trust his ability to take a shot anymore. And that's understandable. The fella's about 60.
If Lombard even lands a glancing blow, it's all over. Lombard via KO (round one).
BK: Anything can happen when the H-Bomb's in play, but it's unlikely that Henderson will be able to weather the early storm that Lombard is bound to throw at him with his battle-worn chin. Lombard via KO (round one).
Dustin Poirier (19-4) vs. Bobby Green (23-6)
DM: Dustin Poirier at lightweight is a force to be reckoned with.
Bobby Green is a dangerous, scary and somewhat unhinged gentleman but I think Poirier has the top game to nullify Green's flashy boxing with level changes.
Green strikes me as a guy who only ends up working himself up if he can't frustrate his opponent and Poirier's skin isn't easily gotten under nowadays. Poirier by submission.
BK: I'm a huge fan of both fighters' styles, but I'm not as confident in Green's ability to hang with the Diamond after such a long lay-off with injury. Green should make it competitive, he might even nick a round, but it's certainly Poirier's fight to lose. Poirier by decision.