Things were all tied up at 47-35 coming into UFC 199. The Brain went 3-2 and the Heart went 4-2 to bring the overall record to 50-37 and 51-36 respectively. This card had some pretty wide odds on a lot of fights. Some played out as expected, some surprised everyone, but there were definitely a lot of highlights from start to finish. Let’s look at the top 5 moments of UFC 199:
Reyes and Kim Put on a Show to Open Card
It’s not often that the first fight on the card picks up a Fight of the Night Bonus, but it’s not often the first fight delivers the way Polo Reyes and Dong Hyun Kim (Maestro not Stun Gun) did. These two traded power shots for the entirety of the fight. In the first round, both men set a feverish pace and connected with bombs. Though the pace slowed, understandably so, in the second and the third, both men refused to back down. Reyes was finally able to land a couple crushing right hands to KO Kim. This fight deservedly won Fight of the Night and both fighters should be happy with their performances. This may not have been the most technical of fights, but it was definitely one of the most entertaining fights of the year so far.
Hendo KOs Lombard with Elbow
I wasn’t sure how much Dan Henderson still had left in the tank, but he proved he still had enough with a second round KO over Hector Lombard. Henderson landed a couple shots in the first that wobbled Lombard, but Lombard was able to get on top a couple times and do a little damage. In the second the two looked to trade punches, but a huge back elbow for Henderson perfectly found its mark and Lombard was out instantly. This is definitely a pretty big setback for Lombard. He has managed to go 4-4 since coming to the UFC and one of those wins was turned to a no contest. He has faced some fairly tough competition, but the UFC isn’t paying him to be a mid tier guy. Henderson picked up a much needed win and delivered another highlight reel KO in the process. That was the last fight on his contract, and I’d honestly love to see him go out on top here, but the decision is of course his to make.
Holloway Makes it 9 in a Row
Max Holloway continues to rack up wins in a crowded featherweight division. He put on a striking clinic against the tough Ricardo Lamas. Through three rounds Holloway relentlessly attacked Lamas. Lamas tried to attack, but Holloway was continually one step ahead. Lamas has now dropped two of his last three fights. He still remains an extremely tough competitor, but he just can’t seem to clear the last hurdle he needs to break into the divisions elite. Holloway has now won nine fights in a row. If it weren’t for the logjam that surrounds the title, he would definitely be due for a title shot. As it sits right now, that may not happen. Assuming he didn’t suffer any injuries in this fight, Holloway is the likely short-notice candidate to step in should Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar get injured. The winner of that fight will likely face Conor McGregor, which leaves Holloway just below that without an opponent. There aren’t really a lot of options below him that he hasn’t already beat, which really leaves the loser of the Aldo vs. Edgar fight as the only real elite option left for Holloway.
Cruz Cruises to Decision
The outcome of this fight never seemed to be in question from the opening bell. Faber put in a valiant effort, but Cruz was by far the better man on the night. Cruz was in complete control of this fight. Faber was barely able to get a hand on the elusive Cruz. The footwork displayed by Cruz was outstanding as usual, but he also managed to bring some power as well. He dropped Faber several times throughout the fight although he wasn’t quite able to finish him. Faber finds himself in a grave position. He has now lost four UFC title fights. I honestly don’t see any chance of him getting another shot. Although he’s came up short for the UFC belt, he’s still had an outstanding career and is an incredibly tough fighter. Cruz has looked better than ever since returning from injury. I’m honestly not sure if there is anyone in the division that could beat him right now. There are likely three possible options for his next opponent. I think he’ll face Garbrandt, Caraway, or the winner of the Dillashaw vs. Assuncao fight. All three are legitimate possibilities. I personally would like to see Garbrandt get the shot, and then have Caraway face the winner of Dillashaw/Assuncao.
Bisping Realizes Dream
It only took 26 fights and almost 10 years, but Michael Bisping finally received a title shot. Even though it came on short-notice, Bisping still made the most of the opportunity. Luke Rockhold didn’t appear threatened by Bisping at all. Maybe it was because of how “easily” he won the first fight, or maybe it was because he didn’t think Bisping had real knockout power. Either way it was a grave mistake on Rockhold’s part. Rockhold had his hands low and Bisping delivered a big left hand that wobbled Rockhold. Bisping followed with another huge left the KO’d Rockhold. He landed a few more punches for good measure before the ref stepped in. Great finish by Bisping to become the UFC middleweight champion. There were a lot of doubters (myself included), but I couldn’t be happier for Bisping. He’ll have plenty of challenges ahead of him as the new champion, but he’s faced the division’s elite for years. Weidman or Souza will likely be next depending upon how quickly the injuries for both guys heal.
Bonus: McGregor vs. Diaz 2 and the Return of Brock Lesnar
Some other big news that happened on UFC 199 actually had nothing to do with UFC 199. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2 was announced for UFC 202, as well as the shocking return of Brock Lesnar for UFC 200. Diaz upset McGregor on short notice in their first fight, and apparently McGregor feels the need to try again. He was willing to forgo defending his featherweight title just for the chance to face Diaz again. I personally would’ve liked to have seen McGregor return to featherweight to defend his title. Either way, this will be a huge fight and should do some big PPV numbers. Speaking of big PPV numbers, the stacked UFC 200 card just got even bigger with the return of arguably the biggest PPV draw ever Brock Lesnar. His return seemingly came out of nowhere, and although his opponent hasn’t been named yet, his return is guaranteed to give the huge PPV an even bigger boost. Assuming the card stays together (fingers crossed), I think this should legitimately challenge UFC 100 for the biggest PPV ever, and could even break the record by a significant margin.
Be sure to check back in two weeks for UFC Fight Night 89. The main event is an important welterweight fight between Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson.
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