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Keys to Victory! Who will win Luke Rockhold vs Michael Bisping UFC 199 main event fight tonight

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There's a lot to think about entering tonight (Sat., June 4, 2016) at UFC 199 live on pay-per-view from The Forum in Inglewood, California.

First of all, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight king Chris Weidman will not be competing. Also, long-time title hunter Michael Bisping will be filling in for the New Yorker on short notice to take on current champion Luke Rockhold for the second time in less than two years.

Their first meeting didn't last too long, seeing as Rockhold submitted "The Count" via one-armed guillotine early into the second round at UFC Fight Night 55, but every fight is different and Bisping believes he's capable of turning three weeks of training into his first ever UFC championship.

As for Rockhold, despite not being able to get his hands on Weidman for a second time, he will have the opportunity to once again separate himself from the rest of the pack at 185 pounds and prove he's capable of becoming a longstanding titleholder, much like former divisional kingpin Anderson Silva.

Leading into their highly-anticipated rematch later tonight, we take a closer look at what both Rockhold and Bisping need to do in order to escape UFC 199 with a win.

Luke Rockhold

1. Stick to the script...

As someone who trains alongside the likes of current UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC Heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez, Rockhold is used to fighting like a dog in close quarters. This covers everything from clinch work to ground-and-pound.

Rockhold has vastly excelled on the ground throughout his tenure at American Kickboxing Academy, which has fueled his recent UFC success. This includes his submission victory over Bisping and his absolute domination of Lyoto Machida back at UFC on FOX 15, making "The Dragon" look like a boy fighting a giant.

Needless to say, it is likely that Rockhold can simply stick to the script, get Bisping to the ground, suffocate him with strikes from top position, utilize his muscular fortitude, sap the Brit's energy, and look for the finish. It seems doable, but Rockhold would most likely have to bypass the idea of smashing Bisping's face on the feet if he wants to take him out with grappling.

That's easier said than done, especially considering these two Middleweights have grown to despise one another. But as someone who has been dropped on his butt in years past, Bisping is certainly susceptible to Rockhold's wrestling and heavy top game.

2. Take away Bisping's advantages on the feet...

As good as Rockhold is on the ground he's just as good on his feet. Chalk it up to his innate size, evolving kickboxing skills, and natural ability to finish with anything from a head kick to a body blow.

If Rockhold is incapable, or unwilling, to take this rematch to the ground, he must understand that Bisping does possess some advantages on the feet. The experienced veteran is quicker in his combinations, utilizes top-level footwork, and understands when to press forward or keep his distance. That makes him dangerous at any turn in the fight, especially considering Bisping's confidence is at an all-time high after beating Silva at UFC Fight Night 84.

The quickest way to thrown Bisping off keel is to keep him at bay with long strikes. Rockhold has demonstrated some of the very best kicks in the division in recent outings, so it wouldn't come as a surprise to see him light up Bisping's legs or body in order to slow him down.

Michael Bisping

1. Maintain his range...

It's no secret that Bisping wants no part of Rockhold on the ground. After all, Rockhold decimated the Englishman with a nasty submission in their first fight. But in Bisping's defense, Rockhold never took him down. He secured the finish off of a head kick that stunned "The Count."

Nevertheless, Bisping is not the same type of athlete as Rockhold. The champion is bigger, stronger, possesses a far superior base in top control, and seems to rag doll any middleweight he gets his hands on. Just ask Weidman.

In order for Bisping to suffice for a lack of natural talent when the action hits the canvas, he must do everything in his power to maintain distance on the feet. The long-time perennial contender is already one of the most established strikers in Middleweight history, so it shouldn't be too difficult for Bisping to find his range, put together combinations when he needs to, and exit when the danger reaches critical levels.

The tougher aspect of keeping his control from the outside is if Bisping happens to catch Rockhold and stun him. In such an instance, the challenger must remain patient and abide by the laws of his ability. Utilizing his footwork, head movement, penetrating jab, and useful body kicks will be a great way to attack with caution and stay away from Rockhold's grasp.

2. Put Rockhold on his heels...

Rockhold is the type of fighter that likes to take his time, gauge an opponent's output, adapt on the fly, and then attack. He isn't necessarily a slow starter, but certainly someone who doesn't come out guns blazing.

If Bisping is aiming to make Rockhold's night uncomfortable from the start, he may want to consider pressing the action early and often. In accordance with Bisping's previous key to victory, he will have to remain patient when doing so. But that doesn't mean he can't overwhelm Rockhold with a variety of looks before the champion finding his grove.

Attacking early may also suffice for any lack of cardio Bisping possesses after coming in on a few weeks notice.

In the past, backing fighters up on their heels has done wonders for intelligent gameplanners. Bisping is one of those fighters who can utilize his speed, timing, precision, and footwork to herd Rockhold into the positions that he wants. Backing Rockhold up and taking away some of his power is a great start in breaking down a champion who has looked more well-rounded than anyone in the division.

Prediction: Rockhold via third-round TKO will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 199 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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