UFC 199 Aftermath Report

Michael Bisping Captures Middleweight Gold

Most people didn’t give Michael Bisping a chance in UFC 199’s main event.  The fans didn’t, Vegas didn’t, and Luke Rockhold’s chin most certainly didn’t as it cockily walked high and mighty into punch after punch from his rival.  This may sound like an insane way to battle someone, but it’s how NFL families argue every day.

Bisping used effective slips and counters en route to his fastest knockout win in the UFC.  As Rockhold stepped in with a right jab from a southpaw stance, he caught Bisping but ate a right hook to the body that hurt him and a left hook over the top that dropped him.  Rockhold quickly stood back up as Bisping charged in to attack.  As they engaged, Bisping came in over the top with a vicious overhand left that sent Rockhold tumbling against the cage.  From there it was just a matter of punching the final pieces of hubris from Rockhold’s unconscious form.

And just like that, his dream of being a world champion finally came to fruition.  Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that Bisping has had the longest and hardest road to a title shot, one that began in 2006 when he won season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter.  The last year has been an amazing story for him.  He picked up his fourth win, a championship, and has a win over Anderson Silva.

Now we’re left with the question of what to do next.  What are we supposed to do with all of these title contenders?  Bisping was filling in for an injured Chris Weidman who was getting an instant rematch against the man who beat him.  So does Rockhold, the current former champ get an instant rematch, or does the former former champ get next shot?  The middleweight division also has Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza waiting in the wings to challenge.

To mitigate the chaos and create some fresh matches, it would make sense to give Souza the next shot.  He’s fresh off of a big win over Vitor Belfort, and his only loss in the UFC is a questionable split decision against a questionable opponent.  Meanwhile Weidman and Rockhold can get on with their rematch or one can challenge Romero.

Dominick Cruz: No Slowing Down

Dominick Cruz once again utilized outstanding footwork and movement to win the war.  He opened the fight with an unexpected takedown on Faber, but from there he was mostly content to stay on the feet and fight his opponent at range with lots of in and out striking.  Faber did what he could to cut off the cage and had some success in the first when he scored a huge takedown slam, but unfortunately he ended up in the worst position after the initial scramble.

Cruz still won the round, at least in the eyes of two of the judges watching, and after the first he settled in and forced Faber to spend the rest of the fight chasing what wasn’t there.  With the loss Faber is now 0-4 in UFC title fights.

The 135 pound division does not have much left to throw at Cruz.  It has quietly become almost as shallow as the flyweight division.  The biggest matchup under 145 that they could do would be between bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz and flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, though the likelihood of such a scenario is currently unlikely.  Instead, the next challenger to Cruz will likely be the winner of the coming fight between TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao.

Dan Henderson Announces Possible Retirement

Dan Henderson has been through some of the toughest wars in the sport in his long, storied career, and the past few years haven’t been kind to him.  He’s only won of three fights since winning his five round, fight of the year battle against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua back in 2011.  His chin, once known for its legendary indestructibility, got him through 39 professional fights without getting knocked out, but he’s been put to sleep like this in three fights since 2013.

He’s also taking more damage, and this fight was no exception.  He was dropped twice in the first round but found a way to hang on and come back in the second.  "It's always nicer to not get hurt in that round. I know that I felt like I hurt him a little bit and came in. He popped me. Next thing you know I'm on the ground, but I was aware the whole time on the ground,” said Henderson at the post-fight press conference.

He returned in the second round and landed a head kick that Lombard attempted to catch.  As he did so he left the entire right side of his head open to a back elbow straight to the temple at maximum velocity and followed up with a double BisBANG.  It was a miraculous victory but a bittersweet one as well.  The fight was the last on Hendo’s contract, and at 45 years old he couldn’t go out on a better note than with another highlight reel KO.

Brock Lesnar Returns at UFC 200, Ariel Helwani Banned from UFC Events

Brock “The Beast Incarnate” Lesnar is coming back to the UFC off of a hot win over Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Street Fight that he won via suplexing his opponent through several piles of chairs.  Lesnar main evented UFC 100 against Frank Mir and redefined the ways you can enact violence against another man’s face with nothing more than tool boxes for hands, so it’s only appropriate that the former cash cow return for an appearance at UFC 200.  He still doesn’t have an opponent but the rumor mill is churning.

Werdum, Velasquez, Overeem, dos Santos, Rothwell, Arlovski, Browne, Nelson, and Lewis are all occupied or recovering.  There aren’t many options in the company.  Josh Barnett would be an obvious and fantastic choice.  He and Lesnar both have strong wrestling and wrasslin’ degrees.  The promos for that could be fun and they could also put on a hell of a match.  Mark Hunt is also lurking the wings, though stylistically this seems like a bad match given that there’s a very real chance of Hunt KO’ing Lesnar.

There may be a third option though.  The UFC has warmed to the idea of working with Fedor Emelianenko to such a degree that they’ve picked up a Russian card that he will be headlining on June 17 for Fight Pass, their streaming service.  With UFC 200 a month away, they will need to move quickly to find an opponent and the longer they wait to make an announcement, the more likely it seems that 

But the drama surrounding this announcement may overshadow the announcement itself.  Ariel Helwani first broke the news last night that the company was close to reaching an agreement with Lesnar, thus spoiling their big announcement later that evening.  As a result Helwani, Esther Lin, and the rest of mmafighting.com’s staff were apparently escorted from the building by security and subsequently banned from further events.  The UFC had journalists removed for doing their jobs, and it’s not the first time this has happened.  The promotion has a contentious history with the media when its members step outside of what it perceives to be acceptable lines.  Helwani tweeted about his issues at the event.

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