The UFC heads to Inglewood, California for UFC 199. Once hailed as the card that nobody wants to be on (with UFC 200 on the horizon) Dana and co have managed to stack two title fights on this card in addition to a bunch of other fun fights.
As seems to be normal practice in 2016 we lost a headliner just two weeks out but a suitable replacement was found. As always, I’ll be providing the tips and 5Dimes brings the odds.
Slightly different format this week, instead of posting all tips at the same time I’ll be posting one a day so keep popping back for the next tip.
Rockhold v Bisping:
Luke Rockhold makes the first defence of the title he won so emphatically from Chris Weidman in December at UFC 194. That victory, which gave him his 5th consecutive win, make him the first man in modern times to have held the same title in both Strikeforce and the UFC and, but for a nuclear head kick from Vitor Belfort, he may have achieved that feat earlier. With Weidman pulling out of the rematch due to injury déjà vu struck once again. Not only had another main event been lost but the top ranked replacements were all fighters that Rockhold had already beaten, including the former champion.
At 37 years of age, with time very much against him, up steps Michael Bisping to answer the call. With the wave of support still rippling behind him after a potential Fight of the Year win over Anderson Silva in London, England ‘The Count’ was a no brainer for the shot. With Jacare, Silva and Weidman injured, Belfort beaten down, Machida and Romero suspended only Bisping and Whittaker remained. Without disrespect, Whittaker couldn’t be booked to carry a card in LA so Bisping gets the shot he has lobbied for over the last ten years.
The form book gives this to Rockhold all day, every day. He showed only a few months back how intently he dominated Bisping and I cannot rule out the same thing happening again. However, when you know you have only a one shot deal, when you know that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose and you know that the watching world doesn’t give you a prayer then this could be the greatest leveller going for the Brit. At the available odds I wouldn’t be backing Rockhold at -800 with stolen money, and I am going to give Bisping the benefit of the doubt in bringing his A game to Inglewood. I’m taking the overs which is one of the few lines available at plus money in a potentially one-sided bout.
Recommendation: Over 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes
Cruz v Faber:
With a split decision win over former champion TJ Dillashaw Dominick Cruz recaptured a belt that he never formally lost. Cruz, who in four years had more surgeries than the Bionic Man, is a deceptively young 30 years of age, all the more remarkable when you consider he is the former WEC champion and carried the inaugural UFC Bantamweight title when the former merged with the latter. Cruz has a formidable record, from 22 fights he has just the one loss; a submission defeat to – yep – Urijah Faber.
Urijah Faber has been in more than his fair share of title fights and could potentially go down in history as one of the best fighters at 135lbs who never won the UFC belt. Twice against Renan Barao he fell short, as he did when facing Cruz at UFC 132, all the way back in July 2011. Faber has beaten pretty much every one of note in the division, with the exception of his current and former teammates, and has almost nothing to prove; except perhaps whether he was ever elite enough to hold this gold. Six consecutive failed title shots suggest that age isn’t improving the odds.
This fight is pure bad blood. Both are former WEC champions, both hail from California so there is no hometown bias, former opponents and coaches on TUF the list goes on. Cruz is far less battle worn than Faber but Faber has been a lot more active in the last four years; he just hasn’t done a huge amount with it. Faber’s game centres on wrestling and submissions, Cruz has just one defeat by submission and they share a ton of decision wins. It’s likely that this goes to a decision, where I heavily favour Cruz, one that I’d expect to be rather lopsided. It’s one of the few lines with any value.
Recommendation: Cruz wins by 5 round unanimous decision – 2 units at -120 (4/5) @ 5Dimes
Henderson v Lombard:
With father time catching up with him and a contract with just a single fight left on it this really could be the last that we see of the legendary Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson. Hendo has been a staple of the biggest fighting organisations around the world but as he reaches 45 (not far from 46) and that once-granite chin has morphed into something resembling soft cheese one cannot help but consider the end of the line. And where better to do in than in his home state of California. Win or lose this should be Hendo’s last fight and fate may have something up its sleeve for him.
Hector Lombard makes his return to the octagon a mere 10 weeks after an absolutely beat down from Neil Magny. In that fight Lombard administered a beat down of his own in the opening 5 minutes before Magny gave it back to him in spades. It was uncomfortable to watch and a mercy when it was finally called off before long-term damage was received.
With a combined age of 83, surely the oldest cumulative age to compete in the UFC, it’s unlikely that this lasts too long. Fifteen minutes would feel like an hour, and with history lighting the way should end in around 5 – 7.5 minutes. It’s a fight that does nothing to advance either fighter and I just hope that neither emerge with any serious injuries.
Recommendation: Under 1.5 Rounds – 2 units at -200 (1/2) @ 5Dimes