With Chris Weidman's neck doing things necks shouldn't be doing, Michael Bisping has stepped up to face Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold, headlining UFC 199 this Saturday evening (June 4, 2016) inside The Forum in Inglewood, California. The two last fought in Nov. 2014, when Rockhold put away Bisping with a brutal guillotine.
The pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event features Dominick Cruz defending his Bantamweight belt against Urijah Faber in a rubber match, while Max Holloway faces Ricardo Lamas 10 pounds north in a pivotal Featherweight fracas.
The eight UFC 199 "Prelims" undercard matches are split evenly between Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1. Hope you've got a solid monitor, because there's a good chance these first four bouts turn out great.
170 lbs.: Sean Strickland vs. Tom Breese
After a strong debut, Sean Strickland (17-1) saw his stock drop somewhat thanks to a very questionable win over Luke Barnatt and decisive loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio. He’s since won two straight over Igor Araujo and Alex Garcia, knocking out the latter in the final minute of their February showdown.
"Tarzan" has knocked out eight opponents and submitted another four.
England’s Tom Breese (10-0) burst onto the scene with brutal knockouts of Luiz Dutra and Cathal Pendred. Last February, he took on Japanese veteran Keita Nakamura and, though he had to go the distance for the first time in his career, ultimately took home the decision.
He stands two inches taller than Strickland at 6’3."
Two towering Welterweight fighters with great grappling and solid power make for a damn interesting undercard showdown. Both have the potential to make a serious impact in the division, but Strickland’s history of passivity has me picking Breese.
Strickland’s big issue is that -- despite being a physical beast with a great chin and skill in multiple areas of the game -- he has zero urgency. His win over Barnatt was a flat-out robbery and he was way too willing to let Ponzinibbio tee off on him. Even against Garcia, he let a guy with a frankly hilarious height and length disadvantage into the fight before turning it on late.
Breese is capable of matching him on the feet and on the ground and he’s the more active of the two. That seals the deal for the Brit, who takes a competitive decision thanks to volume.
Prediction: Breese via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Luiz Henrique da Silva vs. Jonathan Wilson
Luiz Henrique da Silva (10-0) has spent his two-and-a-half-year career entirely in his native Brazil, competing at both Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight. His last fight saw him overcome a rough first round to knockout UFC veteran Ildemar Alcantara, who had not been stopped in more than six years.
"Frankenstein" has knocked out all 10 of his professional foes within two rounds, one of them submitting to strikes
Originally slated to debut against Corey Anderson, a whirlwind of injuries on both his and others’ parts led Jonathan Wilson (7-0) to ultimately face Chris Dempsey last August. "Johnny Bravo" needed just 50 seconds to score his sixth knockout in seven fights.
He has ended four fights in less than two minutes.
Good news for those among you looking for wild violence: These two are, in all likelihood, going to stand there and throw heat until one of them falls over. Both have long track records of rapid knockouts and neither the skill nor inclination to do anything but punch really, really hard.
Wilson seems to be the faster of the two and da Silva is worryingly predictable with his lead right hand, not to mention woefully bad at wrestling. Wilson lands something big in the first round.
Prediction: Wilson via first-round knockout
185 lbs.: Kevin Casey vs. Elvis Mutapcic
Kevin Casey (9-4) returned from his steroid suspension with a decision over Ildemar Alcantara, then fought Antonio Carlos Jr. for 11 seconds before suffering a fight-ending eye poke. The last fight for "King" saw his cardio and chin fail him against Rafael Natal, who pounded him out in January.
His nine wins are split evenly between knockouts, submissions and decisions.
Elvis Mutapcic (15-4), a former MFC champion with wins over Cezar Ferreira and Sam Alvey, entered UFC in January as a late replacement against Francimar Barroso. The long-time Middleweight struggled with his foe’s wrestling prowess and ultimately lost a unanimous decision.
He has knocked out five opponents and submitted another seven.
Casey’s a frustrating guy to try and get a bead on. He’s obviously got power, solid wrestling and a great top game, but has a near-preternatural ability to shoot himself in the foot. He was doing well for himself against Rafael Natal before rushing in and getting thumped, and that’s not even mentioning the time he spent an entire round trying to finish a triangle on Josh Samman and burned himself out in the process.
And if the five-course meal of knees Samman fed him afterward wasn’t enough to convince him to fix his cardio, nothing will.
Mutapcic has underperformed in big fights before and has fallen to wrestlers in the past. If I could reasonably expect Casey to put up at least a decent effort for all three rounds, I’d pick him in a heartbeat. As is, expect Mutapcic to face some early adversity before ultimately handing a flagging Casey his fifth knockout loss.
Prediction: Mutapcic via second-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Polo Reyes
Dong Hyun Kim (13-7-3) -- no relation to the well-known "Stun Gun" -- stepped up on short notice to take on Dominique Steele in his Octagon debut. Much to the Seoul crowd’s displeasure, "Maestro" couldn’t handle his foe’s size and strength, ultimately suffering a slam knockout in the third round.
He has won seven of his last nine fights, all via stoppage.
The heavy-handed Polo Reyes (5-2) reached the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America 2" before suffering a knockout loss to countryman Horacio Gutierrez. He faced fellow semifinalist Cesar Arzamendia on the Finale, scoring a brutal first-round knockout and earning a "Performance of the Night" bonus in the process.
The knockout brought his professional total to four with one submission as well.
Reyes can thump and is ridiculously durable, but Steele had to dish out a ridiculous amount of punishment to put Kim away. I don’t trust "Marco Polo’s" submission defense to stand up in a prolonged engagement with a much, much more experienced opponent.
Kim probably won’t go nearly as far as the other Dong Hyun Kim, but he might be able to carve out a little niche for himself at Lightweight. He taps Reyes late in the first.
Prediction: Kim via first-round submission
Four more UFC 199 fights remain to preview and predict, including multiple young prospects in the lower weight classes. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 199 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.