UFC 199 Opening Odds Breakdown: Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping

UFC 199Event: UFC 199 Date: June 4th, 2016 Location: Inglewood, California Venue: The Forum Broadcast: Pay-Per-View UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold (15-2) Entering the Octagon as an immediate contender, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Rockhold was matched up with Vitor Belfort for his UFC debut and he was stopped with a knockout of the year contender. An MCL injury kept him out of action for eight months following that bout, but he returned with a vengeance. Victories over Costas Philippou (body kick), Tim Boetsch (inverted triangle kimura), and Michael Bisping (one-armed guillotine) not only showed the AKA product’s skill, but also his creativity. It was his domination of former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida that truly showed people how good he could be. While the bout was close on the feet, Rockhold punished Machida on the mat like nobody before, scoring a second-round submission. That win earned Rockhold a UFC middleweight title shot against Chris Weidman. The highly anticipated title fight lived up to expectations, being a back-and-forth battle through the first half. When Weidman threw a sloppy spinning kick however, Rockhold capitalized and dominated him on the ground much like he had to Machida. After a prolonged beating Herb Dean stepped in to stop the contest, and Rockhold had become the new middleweight champion. His first defense was scheduled to take place against Weidman at UFC 199, but a neck injury forced the former champ out of the bout in mid-May. Michael Bisping stepped up on short notice for his long awaited UFC title shot. UFC Middleweight Contender Michael Bisping (28-7) Despite approaching his late 30’s, 2015 seemed to mark a turning point for ‘Ultimate Fighter 3’ winner Michael Bisping. Prior to that, the most memorable moments in his UFC career had been times he was on the receiving end of stoppages (Dan Henderson at UFC 100, Vitor Belfort landing a head kick on him, and Luke Rockhold guillotining him with one arm), controversial decisions (Matt Hamill), or just plain controversy (the Jorge Rivera fiasco, and Alan Belcher eye-poke). However, sentiment towards him seemed to become more favorable in 2015. Perhaps it was fans realizing he was approaching the end of his career and realizing he’ll be missed when he’s gone, but for the first time people started cheering for Bisping’s success. With victories over CB Dolloway and Thales Leites, Bisping had posted back-to-back top 15 wins for the first time in his career. That set up a showdown with Anderson Silva, the former champion Bisping had been lobbying to face for years. A wild 25 minutes later, Bisping had been knocked out at the end of a round, hurt badly in a couple of others, but emerged with a unanimous decision victory, his biggest yet. When Chris Weidman pulled out of his UFC 199 title shot with a neck injury, ‘The Count’ was first in line asking to fill the spot. He now has the opportunity to avenge his loss to Rockhold and capture the UFC middleweight title after his decade of work in the UFC. UFC 199 Opening Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened Rockhold a massive -1050 favorite (bet $1050 to win $100), with the comeback on Bisping at +600 (bet $100 to win $600) at Several Bookmakers. This line is simultaneously the longest of Rockhold’s career as a favorite and Bisping’s as the dog, and to be completely honest it’s difficult to argue with the massive number given the circumstances at play here. Rockhold dominated Bisping less than two years ago, finishing with a highlight reel guillotine in the second round. Now Bisping has to ready himself for a title shot he’s been working towards for the better part of a decade on just over two weeks’ notice. While cardio has never been an issue with Bisping, and he has some familiarity with Rockhold, this simply isn’t enough time for him to get prepared for such a fight. It’s almost a shame Bisping’s title opportunity finally came in this situation. However, given the crop of fighters at the top of the middleweight division, it’s tough to find a winnable bout for Bisping regardless of who the champion may be. I expect Rockhold to look dominant in his first title defense and finish Bisping for a second time. While the Brit’s wins over Dolloway, Leites, and Silva have been impressive, there’s a wide gulf between any of those fighters and Luke Rockhold, and that will be apparent — once again — within minutes of the opening bell.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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