Here we are at the last pay-per-view before UFC 200 and we get to see two titles on the line tonight. Luke Rockhold is defending the middleweight title against Michael Bisping and Dominick Cruz is defending the Bantamweight title and trying to win the trilogy against Urijah Faber. Also on this card we see two featherweights trying to line up a possible title fight, two middleweight legends go to war and a bunch of other fights that have gone under the radar due to the hype of the main fights. Lets get this under way.
Fox Sports 1 prelims
Cole Miller (21-9) vs. Alex Caceres (11-8): We start off the televised prelims with a matchup in the featherweight division. Cole Miller is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who in my opinion is a much better grappler than fighter. Miller competed in 34 grappling matches before MMA and compiled a record of 25-8-1 without ever being submitted. Now Miller has a record of 21-9 which is good on top of 15 submission victories and three more by knockout. Since going into the UFC he has gone 10-8 and at featherweight he has gone 3-4 with 1 NC. His offensive stats are horrible with landing only 26% of his takedowns and just barely better with 34% of his strikes. His defense isn’t much better with defending just less than half of takedowns and incoming strikes. His opponent is Alex Caceres, also known as Bruce Leeroy, is one the most charismatic fighters in the business. Caceres has five wins by submission and two more by knockout. He is slightly better than his opponent stat wise and I think he is going to take this fight. I see this fight being a good mix of standing and grappling and it will go to decision in favor of Caceres.
(#6) Jessica Penne (12-4) vs. Jessica Andrade (13-5): The next fight of the night is in the women’s strawweight division. Jessica Andrade has won 11 of her last 15 fights and the only reason she isn’t ranked is because it is her first fight at strawweight. Andrade has six wins by submission and four more by knockout with six of the total in the first round. Six of her finishes were in the first round and only three of her wins weren’t by way of finish. Andrade is a blue belt in both Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu so she is well-balanced. Her opponent is the number 6 ranked Jessica Penne. Penne has seven wins by knockout and two more by submission with five of the finishes in the first round. She is a boxer and has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu so she will have an edge over Andrade’s ground game. I believe this fight will go to the second or third round with both fighters being aggressive strikers. I think this will be a tough fight and it will eventually go to the ground. Once there, I see Penne being able to pull out a submission.
(#10) Beneil Dariush (12-2) vs. James Vick (9-0): We are at the third fight of the prelims and this fight gives us a lightweight matchup. James Vick is on a nine fight win streak and five of his wins were by finishes. Four of his finishes were by submission and the fifth was by knockout; on top of that, they were all in the first round. Vick is a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a two-time Golden Glove winner. James Vick is very long and tends to keep distance, and then when his opponent tries to take it to the ground he sinks in the submission. His opponent is the number 10 ranked lightweight, Beneil Dariush. Beneil Dariush has finished eight of his wins with six of them by submission and the other two by knockout. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and in Muay Thai so he will be a tough challenge for Vick. I think this fight will stay standing for most of the first round. Dariush will have tricks to land strikes, but I see Vick taking the round with his ability to keep the distance. In the second round Dariush will come out looking to get it in close or even take it to the ground. I see Vick welcoming the attempt to go to the ground, but Dariush will overtake him. Then Dariush will get the victory by submission in the second round.
(#12) Brian Ortega (10-0) vs. Clay Guida (32-13): Here we are at the main event of the prelims and we have a featherweight fight. Clay Guida is a lightweight veteran who currently has a featherweight record of 3-3. Guida has 13 wins by submission and six by knockout, but is also an amazing striker. He was a wrestler in college and uses it aggressively in MMA as well as his crazy striking. Guida always charges forward, sometimes recklessly, and can mix up a large array of kicks. Now his opponent may be looking to take this to the ground because he is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Brian Ortega is undefeated and has won just over half by finish. Five of his wins were by submission and one win by knockout and three of the six were in the first round. Ortega has decent striking, but I think that Clay will overpower him if this stays standing. However I see Guida being the one to initiate the takedown and we will watch a full round or two of Ortega hunting for submissions while Guida tries to ground and pound and try to defend Ortega’s advances. I see Guida being able to hold him off and winning this fight by decision.
(#11) Dustin Poirier (19-4) vs. (#13) Bobby Green (23-6): Here we are at the main card and we starting things hot with a lightweight matchup between two ranked fighters. We start with Bobby Green who has won eight of last nine fights and his most recent fight was his loss so he is looking to avenge the streak-snapper. Green has 17 wins by finish with nine of them coming from knockout and the other eight by submission. Bobby has an electrifying personality in and out of the ring that is borderline cocky. He plays mind games like Anderson used to do, but he is able to get the hell out of the way when someone tries to make him pay for it. When it comes to offense, Green hits heavy and throws scary knees. When he gets to the ground, he smothers and drops huge elbows. At that point he either gets the TKO or slaps on a choke when his opponent exposes themselves. Now his opponent is the number 11 ranked Dustin Poirier. Dustin Poirier has finished all but four of his wins with nine by knockout and six by submission and 11 of them were in the first round. Poirier is always moving forward and strikes heavy. He also likes to catch kicks and he knows how to take a beating. I think at first Poirier will have a hard time hitting Green with Green probably taking the first round. Then I predict that Poirier will be able to catch one of Green’s knees and get a pretty big slam. From there Poirier will tear Green apart now that he can hit him. I have seen a few different videos where Green was able to get out of the bottom where things were looking bad so I see him being able to get out towards the end of the second. We go into round 3 and I see this starting to lean in Poirier’s favor because I think Green won’t be able to dodge the way he likes to and I see Poirier getting a knockout in the third.
(#15) Dan Henderson (31-14) vs. (#14) Hector Lombard (34-5-1): We are at the second match of the night with a fight between two middleweight veterans. The first fighter I’m going to talk about honestly scares me at this point. Dan Henderson is 45 years old and probably one of the greatest middleweights ever. Henderson has accolades that are pages long with some being: a member of the US Olympic Greco-Roman team twice, winning over a dozen Greco-Roman and Freestyle championships at various levels, being a Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion and beating some of the most prestigious names of MMA. The part that scares me is he is 8-8 in the UFC and all of his losses are some of most recent fights. Most people that know Dan Henderson can never stop talking about how good he once was, but he is coming to the end of his career and, as a fan, I’m afraid to see it. His opponent is Hector Lombard who has one of the most impressive MMA streaks I’ve seen. Lombard has 22 wins by knockout and four by submission and is a black belt in both Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I hate to say this, but Henderson’s losses just keep coming sooner and sooner in his fights so I am going to say that Lombard is going to make quick work of Henderson and get a first round knockout.
(#4) Max Holloway (15-3) vs. (#5) Ricardo Lamas (15-4): This next fight is between two of the top 5 ranked featherweights. Ricardo Lamas has won 10 of his last 13 fights and has eight career finishes. They are even finishes with four by knockout and four by submission. Lamas is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but is even more lethal standing up. He is brutal with all of his strikes and can flow between using all different parts of his body. He uses big takedowns and is relatively unreadable. Now his opponent is another serious striker in Max Holloway. Holloway has six wins by knockout and two more by submission. He is currently on an eight fight win streak and I just recently found out that he is the first person ever to go on an eight fight win streak in the UFC and not receive a title shot. So personally I think if he wins this then he should be right behind Frankie for a title shot. Unfortunately the champ in this division is the guy that loves holding up multiple divisions and thinks none of the rules apply to him, but I’m keeping his name out of this because he has nothing to do with this. Anyway I think this is going to be an amazing fight with both fighters gunning for a massive knockout and this may end quickly or it can go all three with both fighters just trashed. Personally I am going to go with the latter; I believe this will go to decision and this will be an insane fight and a contender for fight of the night. I predict that Max Holloway will advance to a nine fight win streak and in the post-fight interview be one of the many people to tell McGregor to get his scared ass back to his division.
(C) Dominick Cruz (21-1) vs. (#2) Urijah Faber (33-8): We are finally at the co-main event and we see Dominick Cruz defend the bantamweight title. Urijah Faber is the number 2 ranked bantamweight which right away I don’t agree with. For the most part I try to be unbiased, but I honestly don’t see how he deserves this title shot. Sure he has a great record and I’ll even admit he used to be pretty damn good. He is 10-3 at bantamweight and has 26 career finishes, 17 by submission and nine by knockout. Hell, he even is the only man to beat Dominick Cruz. Other than the fact I can’t stand his personality, I think he doesn’t deserve this fight is because other than Frankie Edgar, who he lost to, a ton of his recent fights are just him bullying guys that are just good enough to be in the prelims. Faber hasn’t even faced anyone important in his division, excluding Renan Barao, in six years. To me he is only here because of his reputation, not who he has beaten. Now his opponent is Dominick Cruz. If Cruz wasn’t unfortunately injured off and on for five years, most people would probably be considering him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Currently he is ranked number 4 which is higher than I expected, but I think if he had more fights instead of injury he’d be fighting for the top 2. Back to the fight, Cruz has seven wins by knockout and one by submission. He has a fighting style that is practically impossible to read. He switches his stance a lot to the point where it looks like he is standing square which makes it hard to read which side he is making dominant and makes him able to take people down faster. He is fast in everything he does showing almost no set up and has great head movement. Almost two-thirds of Cruz’s wins go to decision so I am going to say this is going to go the distance. Since I am claiming it will go five rounds from the start I am predicting that Cruz will be the better striker, but will still take a good bit of damage. I predict that Cruz will get a few takedowns and I think Faber will get a takedown or two of his own. I do think one round will mostly be Faber laying on Cruz and doing just enough for the ref not to stand them up so Faber can win a round by ground time. I think at the end of this fight Dominick Cruz will put the trilogy to rest with a win and a successful title defense.
(C) Luke Rockhold (15-2) vs. (#4) Michael Bisping (29-7): We are at the main event and the second title fight of the night seeing Luke Rockhold defending the middleweight title. This fight was originally supposed to be a rematch between Rockhold and Chris Weidman. Of course the fights with the most shit talking are usually the ones where something happens, and Chris Weidman got injured. The UFC was looking to fill the spot with Jacare Souza who had at the time just beat Vitor Belfort. Well Jacare was unable due to an injury during the fight, so the UFC went with whom apparently most fans wanted, Michael Bisping. Bisping has won 10 of his last 14 fights and three fights straight. He has 17 wins by knockout and three wins by submission, making just about a third of his wins by decision. Bisping is a kickboxer and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His opponent, Luke Rockhold, has won 14 of his last 15 fights and is on a five fight win streak. Rockhold has won eight of his fights by knockout and five by submission with ten total finishes in the first round. I don’t really know how this fight will play out. Bisping has the tools to be a champion and against other people I think he could actually win it. However, Rockhold is an absolute tank with the longest active finish streak in the UFC. Rockhold hits very heavy and swarms and most people don’t know how to stop something like what he brings. I see this fight going to the second or third and Rockhold will get a nasty TKO.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:15 PM/ET):
Polo Reyes (6-3) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (13-7-3): We kick off the fight card in the lightweight division with two guys who are entering their second UFC fight. One coming off a victory and one coming off a loss. Dong Hyun Kim is a very well-rounded fighter with some sneaky good skills who has put an end to 8 of his 13 wins in the very first round. He will be making his lightweight debut in this fight. Kim has stopped 11 of his professional fights and the stoppages he has picked up prove how well rounded of a fighter he is as he has picked up 6 wins by way of KO and 5 more by submission. This kid is from South Korea is a great fighter to watch and I believe he could really surprise a lot of us if he puts the pieces together. Regardless of his one UFC loss he has still picked up 7 of his last 9 wins and could pick up his momentum again. He is a 1st degree black belt in Judo and will look to get Reyes to the mat and use his great ground skills to win this fight. Now his opponent Polo Reyes is a finisher by nature. He has managed to stop all 6 of his wins, 5 by way of KO and the final by a triangle submission victory. Reyes really made a great UFC debut picking up not just a victory but a performance of the night KO victory. Reyes is a much better fighter on his feet then he is on the ground and the difference is pretty significant. I think if Reyes wants to move to 2-0 in the UFC he will need to fight standing up and avoid this thing going to ground at all costs. This fight is fairly simple to predict, if it goes to ground Kim will pick up the win if it stays standing it will be a close fight but the edge will go to Reyes. I think this fight will be fun to watch and I have faith that Kim will get a hold of Reyes’ arm and get him to the mat in the 2nd round and pick up a submission victory.
Kevin Casey (9-4, 2NC) vs. Elvis Mutapcic (15-4): This fight will take place in the middleweight division and could be a decent one. Elvis Mutapcic is coming into his second UFC fight following a loss earlier this year in his UFC debut. Elvis will be making his middleweight debut in this fight and hopes that the weight change will bring more success. This kid doesn’t stop coming he can punch his opponent from start to finish of every single round. Elvis has stopped 12 of his 15 wins, 5 are by way of submission and the other 7 through KO. He has managed to stop 9 of those 12 finishes in the very first round. He is a very good fighter and has great takedown defense and if he needs it, it is something he can actually rely on. His opponent Kevin Casey is a fighter struggling of late with his luck and will need to really turn it around here or honestly he could see himself out of the UFC. He has stopped 6 of his 9 professional wins and they are split evenly. Those wins are split with 3 submission victories and 3 wins by KO, all 6 of those have happened in the first round. I think this fight could go the distance and be a good one in the meantime. I am going to take Elvis Mutapcic with a unanimous decision victory.
Jonathan Wilson (7-0) vs. Henrique da Silva (10-0): A battle of two undefeated light heavyweights in a great matchup in a division with very few fighters under the age of 30. This will be a nice change of pace as both of these guys are under 30 years of age and on the rise. Silva is a good fighter and is 26 years of age with one punch, good night power. He has stopped all 10 of his fights via KO and 8 of those 10 are in the very first round, 4 of those 8 are in under the first two minutes. This fight will be his UFC debut so we might see some first night nerves but I hope not because this kid could be special. Now his opponent is 28 year old Jonathan Wilson. Wilson has stopped 6 of his 7 professional wins and just like his opponent all of them are via KO. Wilson has stopped 5 of those 6 KO’s in the first round and the best part of this fight is that 4 of them have been stopped in under two minutes just like his opponent. This fight is Wilson’s second fight in the UFC and his first fight he stopped in under a minute. This fight is going to be as good as they can come for a smaller less known fight yet it could be a show stealer. This fight is impossible to predict due to the fact that both of these guys could stop the fight in one punch but I have Henrique da Silva picking up the KO victory in the first 3 minutes of the first round.
Sean Strickland (17-1) vs. Tom Breese (10-0): The main event of the UFC fight pass prelims is going to be a good fight, any fight with Tom Breese is a good one. This fight will take place in the welterweight division. Tom holds an unblemished record and is only 24 years of age. Breese is 3-0 since joining the UFC and stopped his first two fights in the UFC by way of KO. Breese has stopped 9 of his 10 professional wins, 6 by way of submission and the other 3 are through KO stoppages. Tom has the ability to stop a fight fast as he has stopped 6 of those fights in the very first round. He is a very well-rounded fighter with the skill set to finish a fight on the mat or on his feet. He has a purple belt in BJJ and with this win he could be looking at getting a fight against the ranked opponent following this fight. His opponent won’t make it easy though as Sean Strickland is a good fighter. Strickland is a very impressive fighter as well as he has posted a 17-1 record at 25 years of age. Strickland with a win here could be looking at a ranked fighter as his next opponent as well. Strickland has stopped 12 of his 17 professional wins. Strickland has ended 9 of his fights in the first round. This fight will be between two guys who can stop a fight before the fans even have time to sit back in their seats. These guys will give each other the respect they deserve and keep this fight close and it will be competitive. I think this fight will go the distance and be a unanimous decision victory for Tom Breese.
FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Cole Miller (21-9, 1NC) vs. Alex Caceres (11-8, 1NC): We kick off the televised prelims with a fight in the featherweight division that was supposed to have UFC legend BJ Penn against Cole Miller. BJ violated the IV rules of the UFC and now we will see the always entertaining “Bruce Leeroy” step in against Cole. I like this fight but I just miss Penn and wish he was still on this card. Caceres is a good fighter with just no luck as of late in the UFC. He has picked up one win in his last four fights and really needs to turn it around here. His personality is so much fun and I just hope he always has a spot in the UFC because he is a skilled fighter who brings a lot of fun to each fight. He always seems to have a smile on his face even in adversity. He is a very unpredictable fighter as well which always keeps things interesting. I really hope he can look good even in a loss or defeat. His opponent Cole Miller is going to be a really tough opponent. Cole’s last loss came to one of the best in the world in my eyes in Max Holloway. Cole is an excellent submission artist and if this fight goes to the mat he will without a doubt be looking to pick up the submission victory. He has stopped 18 of his 21 professional victories, 15 of those are by way of submission and 3 more via KO. He is a BJJ black belt and I know this has nothing to do with his fighting career but one of his heroes is CM Punk and I find that entertaining. One thing you will see when you watch a Cole Miller fight is that he is a humble respectable guy and he won’t be baited into any trash talking and nonsense during the fights. Another thing you see is that no matter how much trouble Cole seems to get into during a fight he remains calm and picks his spots and looks for his win regardless. I am so excited for this fight as an opening fight to the televised prelims and I got Cole Miller with a 2nd round guillotine choke. Oh one more thing about Cole Miller, he has never been submitted in his career.
#6 (4) Jessica Penne (12-4) vs. Jessica Andrade (13-5): This fight in the women’s strawweight division is a really good one. I am going to probably be standing for this fight. Andrade’s last loss was a disappointing one but I think that she is a future superstar. She is a great fighter and only 24 years of age and maybe one day she could be fighting for the title. She has stopped 10 of her 13 professional wins which is a good amount for most women fighters. I think she has impressive skills on the mat and standing with 6 submission wins and 4 more by way of KO. I think she could be special in either division I honestly don’t know if I like her fighting in the strawweight division but this is her debut in this division. She has stopped just under half of her professional wins in the first round picking up 6 stoppages in the very first round. I really think Andrade is a very skilled young fighter with a whole ton of upside, she could seriously be something special. I think her opponent is a big step for her first fight in the strawweight division. Penne is coming off an embarrassing loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk where she was just out-struck and absolutely demolished in their fight. In a count of significant strikes she was out-struck 126-26 according to UFC.com. Penne is a good ground fighter having picked up 7 wins via submission as well as two wins via KO. Her 9 stoppages and Andrade’s 10 make this just even more reason for this fight to be a good one. She is a very well-rounded fighter and her skills could be displayed early and often as she has managed to stop 5 fights in the first round. This fight will be a real brawl between two women trying to prove they can compete at the top of this division. I got Andrade winning this fight via a 1st round TKO and skyrockets into the top 7 of this division.
#10 (13) Beneil Dariush (12-2) vs. James Vick (9-0): This fight in the lightweight division is actually main card worthy with Dariush and Vick battling it out. Vick with a win over Dariush would without a doubt find himself ranked in this stacked division. Vick has stopped 5 of his 9 professional wins and 4 of those are by way of submission while the other by KO. All of his stoppages have been in the first round which as I said in his last fight makes me worry that he slows down after the first round and lacks the stopping abilities as the fight wears on. If he wants to pick up the win here against Dariush he will need to have the stamina to go all 15 minutes with a nonstop pace. He is a good boxer and has the ability to stay durable for the full fight I just need to see his flashy finishing skills late in the fight as well as the first. Vick needs to work some on his true power striking I know he has the skills with his hands and footwork I just hope to see his power increase. Now his opponent with one or two more wins could be in the top 5 of this division and facing the champ soon enough. Beneil’s last fight was a surprising loss to Michael Chiesa in which he was dominating him on his feet but once the fight went to ground it ended with a submission. The fight that impressed me the most for Dariush is his win over Michael Johnson though I didn’t believe he won the fight he actually surpassed my expectations in his split decision victory. He has stopped 8 professional fights and all 8 of them are in his last 11 wins. He has grabbed 6 submission wins and the other 2 by way of KO. 5 of those 8 stoppages have been in the very first round and I don’t believe he is done with that rampage. He is only 27 years of age and not fully reached his prime yet and when he does I believe he is a title contender without a doubt. He is a very fast handed fighter and has great footwork to match his speed. I am not saying he is impossible to take down but he has posted a 79% takedown defense rate and that alone helps him virtually keep this fight wherever he wants it. His opponents know his skillset and have to be wary of every single part of his game. I think if Dariush can fight this fight his way which is smart and calculated he will hand James Vick his first loss and move just a little bit higher in the lightweight division.
#12 (14) Brian Ortega (10-0, 1NC) vs. Clay Guida (32-13): The main event of the televised prelims this fight is going to be a fantastic end of the free fights. This fight in the featherweight division has a flashy exciting veteran in Guida and a star on the rise in Ortega. Clay is one of the UFC’s most entertaining and beloved fighters, not just in his division but on the whole roster. He is a skilled ground fighter who can end a fight from top or bottom position. He has picked up 13 submission wins and he is so much fun to watch especially when he goes to ground but his stand up game is sneaky good as he has picked up 6 knockout wins. Clay has a pretty decent chin and can take a pretty bad beating if it comes down to a stand up brawl but his wrestling skills are pretty impressive and are nonetheless something not to be overlooked whatsoever. One thing you will see when Clay Guida is fighting is that he won’t slow down at all he has the cardio and the endurance to last all 15 minutes and just keep coming, or so he has in the past. Clay needs to get this fight to be a scramble and brawl if he wants to pick up a crucial win here. His opponent is undefeated and only 25 years of age. He is looking for a big win over a UFC vet and he could be in the top 10 with a win and one or two more following this win could find himself a title fight against whoever is at the top at that time. Ortega has stopped 60% of his wins professionally, 5 are via submission and the final by way of KO obviously. He has gone a full 25 minutes in his career twice and shown that endurance during a 15 minute fight isn’t an issue whatsoever. This fight I believe we will see Ortega being the aggressive fighter the whole time due to the fact that he has no fear of stamina ever slowing him down. I think this fight could become a slow pace wrestling match or could be just a straight up brawl between two beasts. Ortega fights out of a legendary gym called black house MMA. Ortega is a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt and I believe he will be the better fighter on the mat. I hope we get to see more and more of Brian Ortega soon as he is a great young fighter on the rise in a tough division who could really bring even more excitement to the loaded featherweight division. I believe Clay will run into an opponent just a little too tough for him here and Ortega will pick up 2nd round TKO from top position through some ground and pound.
UFC 199 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#11 (9) Dustin Poirier (19-4) vs. #13 (12) Bobby Green (23-6): We really get to start the pay-per view with one of the two most exciting fights of the night in my eyes. I am so thrilled to see this fight in the lightweight division. Bobby Green is one powerful dude and a very well-rounded fighter nonetheless. He has 17 stoppages to his name in his professional MMA career and they very well display how well-rounded of a fighter he is. He has picked up 8 wins via submission and the other 9 stoppages by way of KO. Bobby is one vicious fighter who loves to pick up the finish victory if he can find a way and he will be looking for a finish no matter where this fight winds up. I personally believe the best fight with these two would be a stand up fight. He is rolling as of late picking up 8 wins in his last 9, granted his last fight was a loss by unanimous decision to Edson Barboza. Bobby once he gets his opponent locked up in a clinch or just gets a hold of his opponent standing he could be looking for his favorite way of landing a takedown which are powerful slams. Bobby will need to keep his head about him and not prematurely go for the finish as he will be fighting one of the most underestimated fighters in the UFC in Dustin Poirier. I have been a fan of Poirier since day one and I believe he will continue his rise in the division. Dustin is a finisher of fights has he has managed to stop 15 of his professional fights, 9 via KO and the other 6 are by way of submission. He has managed to stop 11 of those 15 fights in the very first round. He is honestly one of the toughest dudes in the world of MMA and is so hard to stop let alone beat which is why he only has 4 losses to his record. This fight will be a true definition of an all-out brawl and I see it ending only one way as these guys do not like to leave their fates in the hand of the judges scorecard as nobody should because the UFC judges are a joke. I think when it comes down to it both of these guys could meet again in the top of this division because they are both skilled enough to be there soon. Anyway I am struggling with the winner of this fight and I love both fighters’ skills and think they both could easily pick up the win which makes this so hard. I am going with the guy who has been on a role and looked vicious his past 3 fights and take Dustin Poirier with a 1st round submission win.
#15 (12) Dan Henderson (31-14) vs. #14 (13) Hector Lombard (34-5-1): This fight in the middleweight division and will be between a true legend and a beast with hands that hit like a ton of bricks. Lombard is returning to the middleweight division and will be looking to get right back on track with a win over a legend in MMA. Hector is one powerful dude who will be looking to land his devastating fists and try and pick up a KO stoppage. He is a beast and has great striking skills and is a judo style fighter who could look to land some strong arm throws to the ground. He has stopped all but 8 of his professional wins, 22 are via KO and the other 4 are through submission using his judo skills to get his opponent to the mat and dominate them. Four of his five losses have been decision loses as he is one tough dude to beat by a stoppage as the only fighter to do so was Neil Magny via a 3rd round KO. Now his opponent is a true legend of the sport in Dan Henderson. Dan is as good as they come especially in his prime and his hands have always been one hit good night power hands and they honestly still are. He has also been one of the toughest dudes in the UFC of all time and his granite jaw has helped him throughout his career. At 45 years of age he has been debating retirement and that makes sense but I selfishly don’t want to see him go. Dan is the only man in the history of the world to knock out Renzo Gracie, which might be the greatest feat honestly. He isn’t much of a finisher on the mat as he relies on his right hand to stop fights, as he has picked up 16 KO victories and just one through submission. This fight will probably just come down to who can stop who with their hands and if nobody can it will be who controlled the octagon and landed the most significant strikes. I believe that Henderson will win this one though via a split decision as these two will give it their all and leave their blood all over the mat. This fight will be a brutal brawl.
#4 (3) Max Hollway (15-3) vs. #5 (4) Ricardo Lamas (15-4): The last fight before the two title fights of the night will take place in the featherweight division. This fight has a lot of influence in the featherweight division. I believe the winner of this fight should be able to fight for the title as soon as the title is actually in a clear title holders hands. Ricardo is one tough and brutal dude. He is a well-rounded fighter and has stopped 8 of his 15 wins and they are split evenly, 4 via KO and the other 4 via submission. Since moving to featherweight he has posted a 7-2 record and won a total of 10 fights in his last 13. Ricardo looks to stop fights through some devastating power with his fists and he truly looks for the finish whenever he can find a hole. Now if you stand in-front of Lamas you make a mistake because he can explode out of nowhere and use his power to put his opponent on the mat. If he doesn’t knock his opponent out when they go down he will go to the mat and use his impressive ground skills and bring home the win. I think the fighter that was screwed over more than anyone in the UFC though is a terrifying opponent for Lamas, that person being Holloway. Max is the first fighter to win 8 in a row in the UFC and not be rewarded a title shot and I think it is a huge mistake on Dana Whites part to have not given him a title shot by now. Max is 24 years of age with great striking skills and phenomenal cardio. He has incredible heart and will never give up and he is eager to better himself each and every single fight. Max isn’t an easy dude to take to the mat as he has successfully stopped 82% of the takedowns attempted against him. Max has stopped 8 of his 15 wins not stopping many but he has stopped them via 6 KO wins and 2 more through submission. Max isn’t the best fighter on the mat and against Ricardo his best shot at winning is staying on his feet and out striking Lamas. If this fight goes to the mat he will need to try and get to better position as soon as possible because Lamas is a savage finisher. This fight will be a really good one and I think if it stays standing it could honestly win fight of the night. I believe if this goes to ground we could see Lamas lock in something that won’t make Holloway feel good to say the least. I am going to be bold though and say that Holloway ends this thing in the 3rd round via TKO.
(C) Dominick Cruz (21-1) vs. #2 (6) Urijah Faber (33-8): This fight in the bantamweight division is for the title and I think it should be open and shut. I will be flat out honest I do not believe one bit that Faber belongs in this fight yet. He has won one fight since his last loss. His two wins before that were against two fighters who at that time were unranked and his last 3 wins were all fights they only deemed worthy of putting him on the prelims. He has only fight on 2 main cards in his last 5 fights and picked up both of them as losses. He has fought for a title 6 times since 2008 and has lost all 6 of them. I just want to point out that means he has gone 8 years now without successfully picking up a title win with plenty of opportunities since then. Dillashaw’s loss to Cruz was as close as they come and honestly should have been worthy of an automatic rematch. Dillashaw defended the title 2 times since taking it and deserved the rematch but I feel the UFC is playing the popularity card with Faber by putting him in this fight in place of TJ. Faber is a good hug and hold fighter with good wrestling skills when he actually goes to the mat but he loves to hold someone in the clinch and do nothing as long as he possibly can. Now his opponent is a gifted fighter and one of the best champs the UFC has seen in the past 10 years. Cruz will be the better fighter no matter where this fight goes but it will be closest if this fight is on the mat because Cruz is the better striker he is more patient and has all around better skills. I think this fight will make it pretty deep as I believe Faber will look to keep this fight close ranged and clinch which means for him go for hug and hold and slow down the fight. I believe Cruz will be smart and patient and wait for his shot and win this fight in the 4th round via a KO victory.
(C) Luke Rockhold (15-2) vs. #4 (5) Michael Bisping (29-7): This fight is going to be a true brawl. I am so excited to see how Rockhold defends his title as he is a really good calculated striker with great wrestling skills. His opponent. The original opponent was supposed to be Chris Weidman but Michael Bisping is getting the blessing of a lifetime taking this fight. He has a true title shot here and will be looking to finally capitalize on the UFC gold shot. He would love more than anything to finally hold that UFC gold around his waist. Bisping is a great fighter with true KO power and will be looking to stop the fight with his hands and he proved against Anderson Silva he can take a brutal punishment and still keep coming. Bisping will have to do whatever it takes in this fight to keep this fight from going to the ground otherwise he will be in a deep hole against Luke. He has already been submitted once in his career by Luke and he will do whatever it takes to avoid this from happening to him again. Now Bisping has the ability to stop the fight with one or two good shots due to his phenomenal power and great striking skills. His opponent might be one of the best fighters in the world honestly in Luke Rockhold. Luke is a phenomenal wrestler and great striker with even Jiu-jitsu skills. I think Luke is possibly unbeatable in the current middleweight division. He has a few opponents I could see match up well against him but they have to be people with great striking and even better ground games. I think the best fighter for Luke is Jacare Souza. This fight though is going to be interesting as I would love to see what happens if this fight stays standing because Bisping and his KO power could end this thing and shock the world while the champ could end this thing both standing and on the mat. I am excited for this title fight, a lot more than I was when I originally heard about the replacement. I honestly think this fight could be closer than most expect for the first couple rounds but I think in time Luke will figure out how to get ahold of Bisping and end this thing. I am going to take this one to the championship rounds and say Luke picks up the win to retain his title in the 4th round via a RNC.
- Matt Koontz