With all the talk of the massive UFC 200 card, as well as the will he/won’t he regarding Conor McGregor’s possible movements in the future, June 5th’s UFC 199 pay-per-view has slipped well under the radar.
Although UFC 200, as well as the organisation’s venture into New York will dominate headlines, UFC 199 shapes as an event that simply can’t be missed.
In the headline fight UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold will attempt his first defence of the title he won back in December in an absolute thriller of a fight.
Rockhold’s original opponent, the man he took the title from in Chris Weidman, will miss the fight due to injury, however England’s Michael Bisping has stepped in.
Bisping, following the biggest win in his career over UFC legend Anderson Silva, steps in on short notice, and is looking for revenge after suffering a second-round TKO loss to Rockhold in late 2014.
Since that loss to his June 5th opponent, Bisping has been undefeated, winning three fights, including the aforementioned win over Silva.
The fight promises to be a stand up war, although neither man is a slouch on the mat, and despite the nature of the challenger’s preparations, I believe this will be a far better contest than their first encounter.
Bisping’s ability to sell the fight with his mouth may end up seeing the event draw higher numbers than the original main event, much like the recent McGregor/Diaz event.
In the co-main event of the evening, the UFC bantamweight title will be on the line as one of the UFC’s longest feuds will continue as Dominick Cruz defends against Urijah Faber.
Cruz’s last loss came to the California native all the way back in 2007. Since the loss he has put together a 12 fight win streak, including a unanimous decision win over Faber.
Although injury has largely disrupted his reign as Bantamweight Champion, Cruz is the undisputed king of the division, a division that Faber lives to rule.
Faber has lost his last six title fights, including three in the UFC, and despite his ability to continue winning otherwise, you have to believe this is his final chance to wear UFC gold for the first time.
Cruz, who won the title in his return fight over TJ Dillishaw, is looking to silence the doubters, who in all honestly doubt his ability to avoid injury rather than his abilities in the octagon.
With each competitor holding a victory over the other, and with the title on the line, I can’t see this fight being anything other than a brilliant scrap.
Outside of the two title fights, MMA legend Dan Henderson will take on human wrecking ball Hector Lombard in a middleweight fight that could rival the main events for fight of the night honours.
If this goes the distance, it will likely be one for the highlight reel, however given the power possessed by both men, this could be a fight that ends very quickly via a single strike.
Both men are coming off losses, further ensuring there is no lack of motivation for either man.
Lombard, who has been known to come out like a house on fire yet gas later in the fight, will have to watch out for Henderson’s legendary knock out power if the fight goes past the first round and a half.
That being said, Henderson will have to weather the early storm, or face an early night.
Rounding out the main card are two exciting fights that will first see Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas fight for to move closer to a shot at the featherweight strap, while Dustin Poirier and Bobby Green will throw down in the lightweight division.
On the televised but non pay-per-view card, MMA legend and two-division UFC title holder BJ Penn returns to the octagon to take on Cole Miller.
To say this fight could end anywhere at any time is an understatement, as no one knows what to expect of the legendary Penn, who is coming out of retirement.
Miller may not be the biggest name on Penn’s resume, but he will pose quite a challenge, and has a wealth of experience to draw from.
With two title fights, two legendary MMA superstars, and a night of potential fight of the night contests, UFC 199 is more than just a bump in the road to UFC 200.
It may lack the incredible star power of the marquee 200 event, but this night could go down in history and is not to be missed.