UFC 199 Breakdown: Luke Rockhold vs Michael Bisping 2

Luke RockholdPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC 199 in Los Angeles, California as Luke Rockhold defends his middleweight title against England’s Michael Bisping.   Michael Bisping (Record: 28-7, +600 Underdog, Fighter Grade: B) The 37 year old Cyprus born and English raised fighter has long sought after a title match and finally received after Chris Weidman was forced to pull out of the UFC 199 headliner with an injury. Bisping enters this bout on the back of three consecutive decision wins. His most recent victory over Anderson Silva was the biggest win of the Englishman’s career. Michael Bisping is one of the hardest working fighters in the UFC. He’s been fighting at a top ten level in the division for the better part of ten years. He’s a volume striker with solid hands and a strong kicking game. His best attribute is probably his conditioning. Bisping quite possibly has the best work rate in the octagon. He’ll push for all five rounds at an excellent pace. It’s very difficult to beat Bisping by decision because he simply out works opponents with volume and strikes landed over the course of a fight. He combines that with an underrated wrestling game and very good takedown defense. Bisping’s biggest issues have been his lack of punching power and inability to put opponents away. In order to win, he has to do so by decision. Over time, his hand speed and chin have diminished. He’s struggled with fighters who can blitz him and offer more variety on the feet. He can compete with most fighters in the division, but simply hasn’t shown that he can beat the division’s elite.   Luke Rockhold (Record: 15-2, -900 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A++) The UFC Middleweight Champion enters Saturday’s title fight looking to defend his championship for the first time. In Rockhold’s last outing, he finished the previously undefeated middleweight champion to give him his first ever UFC title. Outside of his loss to Vitor Belfort in 2013, Rockhold has not lost since 2007. Rockhold is the prototype of the new age of fighter in MMA. At 6’3” and a 77 inch reach, he’s built extremely well for the middleweight division. Rockhold combines his physical gifts with being an all-around athlete with great footwork. Rockhold is very reminiscent of Jon Jones in regards to not having the biggest punching power in the division, but has pretty much other all the other tools to beat opponents. Where Rockhold differs is his kicking game. The California born and raised champion has an awesome array of kicks which he is able to land from range. It’s his kicking approach that allows him to step up the grappling and his work against the cage. Like most fighters at American Kickboxing Academy, he has a very good work ethic and fights at a high pace. Rockhold lands 4.15 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 1.99 strikes; a fantastic difference of 2.16 strikes per minute. As good as Rockhold is on the feet, he may be even better on the ground. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has shown a lot of variety in his submission setups and attempts. Of his 15 career wins, nine of them have come by submission. At just 31 years old, Rockhold is in the midst of his prime and could be looking at a lengthy title reign.   Match-up This fight is a rematch of a 2014 contest in which Rockhold stunned Bisping with a kick to the head and followed up with a one arm guillotine in the second round to force the Englishman to tap. Like the first bout, I expect the early portion of the fight to be competitive. Bisping will be amped up for his first title fight and should be able to match Rockhold in the early going. Look for Rockhold to sit back and counter Bisping’s actions. Rockhold is not afraid of Bisping and will look for openings instead of forcing the action. It’s a matter of when, not if when Rockhold lands a deciding strike. It will likely be a kick as opposed to a punch that will once again stun Bisping. The Englishman has had lots of trouble dealing with head kicks from opponents. Rockhold excels in that part of the stand up and will land a fight altering strike prior to the midpoint of the fight. Rockhold will then really takeover the fight and either finish with follow up strikes or lock in a submission to put Bisping away. Bisping’s only way to win this bout is outpoint Rockhold over 25 minutes. Rockhold has too many weapons to not be able to finish the Englishman in a five round contest.

Written by Jay Primetown

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