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UFC 199: Rockhold vs Bisping Breakdown

Dan Tom





Luke Rockhold (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Chris Weidman (12-12-15)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Middleweight Champion
+   Strikeforce Middleweight Title
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   8 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
+   Solid kickboxing variety
^   Dangerous left liver kick
–    Head often leans heavily left
+   Excellent top control
^   Technically aggressive
+   Dangerous transitional grappler
^   Crafty from front headlock
+   Superb submission / choke acumen
+   Effective ground striker
+   Consistent pace & pressure



Michael Bisping (28-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Anderson Silva (2-27-16)
  • Camp: RVCA Gym (California/UK)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 3 Winner
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   17 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   Excellent footwork
^   Active & fundamentally sound
+   Consistent cardio & conditioning
+   Manages distance well
+   Intelligent clinch breaks & exits
+   66 % Striking defense
–    Right hand often drops in exchanges
^   Shown left hook & kick availabilities
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Effectively gets back to feet
–    Fighting on two weeks notice


The main event for UFC 199 stays in the spirit of rematches as Luke Rockhold defends his title against Michael Bisping. Originally slated to rematch Chris Weidman, Luke will now rehash pleasantries with Michael Bisping as the Englishman was more than happy to replace the injured former champion. Despite this not being the best of circumstances for Bisping to receive his title shot, Michael is coming in confident fresh off his upset victory over Anderson Silva. But with only two weeks to prepare for a fighter like Luke Rockhold, we will soon see if Bisping’s acceptance of this challenge is courageous or foolhardy.

Being no stranger to adversity, Bisping has spent the last three years of his career fighting with one eye. Even though he has managed to hold the best striking defense in middleweight history(at a current rate of 66.7%), the Englishman has shown the tendency to lower his right hand. From preemptively parrying to clocking out early in exchanges, this habit has traditionally exposed Bisping to left hooks & high kicks. Unfortunately, this scenario cost Michael greatly in his match with Vitor Belfort as he suffered a detached retina. Although this has added to Bisping’s right-sided vulnerabilities(as seen in subsequent fights), the ever-improving martial artist has shown to make adjustments intelligently since then.

Demonstrating clean exits away from his right side(weak side), Bisping’s avoidance of Luke’s left side will be paramount given how their strengths align. With plenty of experience and sample size against southpaws, Bisping displays a solid outside foot awareness. In fact, he did a good job of executing his angles in his first encounter with Rockhold until getting caught. Although achieving the proper angles, Michael failed to commit and capitalize with his combinations. Even though Rockhold’s check hook is renown for stifling offense, the champion has a tendency to lean his head heavily to the left. We saw Vitor Belfort pick up on this habit as he searched with spinning wheel kicks to that side, and we even heard Weidman’s corner repeatedly call for Chris to expose it in their bout.

Since Bisping had that first fight with Luke, we have seen Michael make concerted efforts in improving his punch commitments under Jason Parrillo. Despite Anderson Silva’s head & trunk movement, we saw Bisping successfully achieve the follow-up left & right hooks he lacked in his initial encounter with Rockhold. Keeping himself afoot & attacking from the proper side will most certainly be Michael’s best chances in this fight, but I am not sure he will have the gas tank to support consistency. Should Bisping slow, there will be no room for rest as Rockhold reminded us of the extent of his opportunism in his last outing. Demonstrating a natural ability for technical destruction to go along with his god given frame, Rockhold could very well put a stamp on this fights momentum should he ground the Count.

I know the majority of this breakdown focused on Bisping’s perspective, but I found it particularly appropriate given the narrative of certainty for Rockhold heading into this fight. And although I may agree with the masses, I always make sure to give a fair argument for the opposing side of my pick. I was one of the few who officially took Bisping against Silva and would love to see him come through here, however, with two weeks notice it is hard to see Michael making it out of the kitchen without being burned.

Official Pick: Rockhold – Inside the distance



Dominick Cruz (21-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 30 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / TJ Dillashaw (1-17-16)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance/ Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Bantamweight Champion
+   WEC Bantamweight Title
+   Wrestling Base
+   7 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   Consistent speed & stamina
+   Excellent distance management
^   Constantly moves & feints
+   Utilizes darts & crouches
^   Allows misdirection/directional changes
+   Solid knee-tap takedowns
^   Well-timed penetrations & transitions
+   Intelligent & effective scrambler
+   Accurate R. uppercut & counter hooks
–    Low handed standing guard
^   Relies on head/overall movement
+   Great in-fight instincts/IQ



Urijah Faber (33-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 37 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Frankie Saenz (12-12-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling Base
+   9 KO victories
+   17 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Fast hand & foot speed
^   Deceptively closes distance
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Counters well
+   Good knees & elbows in clinch
^   Strikes well of the break
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Changes levels well
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Deadly chokes / Active back taker
+   Superb scrambling ability
–    Heavily reliant on reaction time

Serving as the co-main event in Los Angeles is a showdown for the Bantamweight title as Dominick Cruz defends his belt against Urijah Faber. Completing what was one of the greatest career comebacks in sports history earlier this year, Dominick Cruz will attempt to ascertain his position as the best in the world. Looking to have the final say, Urijah Faber will attempt to achieve UFC gold after multiple crawls to contention. With each man holding a victory over the other, expect high-tensions in this rubber match of rivals.

Despite Dominick only fighting three times since their last encounter in comparison to Faber’s eleven, the skill progression’s/gaps in performances of each fighter is a lot closer than the numbers would suggest. Granted Cruz is an outlier of proportions that defy sample size, but he has none the less managed to return in a sharper form of himself. Utilizing “darts” & “crouches” from both sides, Cruz will continually shift stances to set up his attacks and stifle his opposition.

We saw Cruz use these tactics in his last meeting with Faber as Dominick’s movements & feints made it difficult for Urijah to get a beat on him. Subsequently, Faber was forced to look for counters for the majority of the fight. Although Faber was able to score knockdowns and keep things competitive, Cruz was ultimately able to out point him as he dictated the overall action. Not to mention, some of those knockdowns were scored on Dominick as he was switching stances, as being caught off balance is a common defensive side-effect of shifting.

Regardless of their first encounter, Urijah has made improvements of his own in the past few years. Despite his reluctant/rocky relationship with Duane Ludwig, Faber has shown much tighter technique as he strikes with more purpose and process since his time spent with Ludwig. Utilizing feints more intelligently, Urijah will now incorporate more jabs & hooks to set up his patent right hand. These skills will be crucial if Faber means to abandon his prior approach countering, as I suspect he may do in this fight. But the problem in being aggressive with Dominick Cruz is that you will likely play right into his hand.

As we saw in last fight with TJ Dillashaw(and as was stated in my breakdown prior), Cruz will utilize a style of shifting to counter aggression referred to as “opening the gate” in traditional martial arts. Often from the crouch position, Dominick will swing his lead foot back as this will not only switch his stance but change the overall terms of the exchange. Done in a way that lends a false sense of perception to his opponent, this technique flows fluidly into Cruz’s check hooks which counters aggressive on-comers as this was apparent in his last outing.

Although Faber will most certainly need to have that on his radar, I feel that the uppercut may play a role in this matchup. A possible carry-over from his level-changing takedown feints, Faber’s head will often come dangerously low and forward in his entries. Not only can you see this cost him uppercuts in his last match with Cruz, but Urijah was also caught similarly in recent bouts with Frankie Saenz & Cisco Rivera. Cruz, who commonly uppercuts off his crouches, has seemingly sharpened this technique as it was very present in his last bout.

Similar to Dillashaw versus Cruz, I do not expect prolonged ground stanzas given each man’s ability to scramble effectively. Although I suspect both men will have motives to take the other down, they both embody styles that seem to stifle each other. Favoring low-risk positional rides, Cruz’s more catch-style of wrestling often keeps him from overcommitting himself into traps & reversals. Urijah, on the other hand, thrives on grappling chaos as he is quick to initiate a scramble. Faber’s disregard for what are traditionally bad positions is why he is so difficult to hold down. Electing to turtle out from the bottom, Urijah will often risk getting his back taken as we saw in his fight with Iuri Alcantara.

However, with Cruz’s said style I see these exchanges leading to get-ups as it did in their second encounter. And just like in that fight, I feel Faber’s best chances here will be by striking off the breaks. With Dominick disguising his entries with everything short of a smoke bomb, I suspect Urijah will once again look to unload on the exits. A Faber win would make for a fantastic story, but I ultimately see his stylistic chances as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. Faber can either approach aggressively or gamble on the counter shot, but I see both paths playing into the champions style and likely the scorecards as well.

Official Pick: Cruz – Decision



Max Holloway (15-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 24 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jeremy Stephens (12-12-15)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Hawaii)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Amateur Accolades
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Manages distance well
+   Superb feints & footwork
^   Moves laterally / attacks of angles
+   Excellent variety & shot selection
+   Improved wrestling (82% TD defense)
+   Deceptively counter clinches/grapples
^   Strikes well off the break
+   Dangerous submissions in transitions
–    Sometimes starts slow



Ricardo Lamas (16-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Diego Sanchez (11-21-15)
  • Camp: MMA Masters (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Div. 3 All-American Wrestler
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   Accurate left jab & hook
+   Diverse kicking attacks
^   Favors R. leg kicks & L. switch-kicks
+   Strong in the clinch/against cage
^   Looks for knees & takedowns
+   Excellent top pressure
^   Effective ground striker
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Deceptive submissions & back takes
–    Lacks counters / pocket presence


In a fun featherweight affair, number five-ranked Ricardo Lamas squares off against number four-ranked Max Holloway in a high-stakes matchup. Despite being thrown to the wolves early on in his UFC career, Max Holloway has steadily learned to swim as he now finds himself on the brink of title contention. Looking to stop Max’s 8-fight winning streak is former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Snapping Dennis Bermudez’s 7-fight streak back in 2014, Lamas is no stranger to playing the spoiler.

As impressive as Holloway’s winning ways have been, he has yet to face a strong wrestling threat since a razor-thin decision loss to Dennis Bermudez back in 2013. Although Max has shown brilliant glimpses of ground progress in his subsequent bouts, Ricardo’s wrestling prowess alone should raise stylistic flags coming into this fight. That said, I am not so sure Ricardo’s style will mix well with Max in the overall scheme of things.

Starting off on the feet, Lamas is deceptively fast off the foot as he demonstrates a diverse arsenal of kicks. Despite showing improved check hooks and head movement off of his strikes, Lamas has struggled to develop a presence in the pocket as he favors an all-the-way-in or all-the-way-out approach. Often striking in straight lines, Ricardo heavily relies on his speed and reactionary level changes to keep him safe. What I found particularly strange upon reviewing tape on Lamas was his complete lack of counter striking, as Ricardo almost always elects to defend and will only attack after resetting comfortably.

Against a striker who utilizes angles and unrelenting volume such as Holloway, Lamas may find difficulty in dictating the range and finding his shots. Max also does an excellent job of incorporating feints with his footwork, which could do him wonders in this fight when you consider Ricardo’s propensity to bite hard with parries. Subtly switching stances as he shifts laterally, Max will deceptively draw his opposition into following him as he executes attacks that catch them off guard. Showing superb timing, Holloway will usually wait till his opposition is in mid-motion before attacking and angling off.

Holloway’s commitment to mixing up these techniques traditionally make takedowns difficult to setup. Especially for someone like Lamas, who favors his attempts when his opposition’s back is to the cage. Treating the fence like it is electrically charged, you will seldom find Holloway hanging out in this space. Even when he is found or confined here, Max demonstrates solid defensive fundamentals to accompany his slick grip fighting as this allows him to counter clinches effectively.More importantly, Max display superb strikes off the break as I see that being a key factor in this fight.

With Lamas reluctant to counter as he circles out, look for Holloway’s strikes off clinch breaks and exits to help sway momentum his way. Ultimately, I feel Max’s volume, feints, and movement will freeze up Ricardo’s overall game. Whether by scorecards or late stoppage, I expect the featherweight division to have a new title contender.

Official Pick: Holloway – Decision



Dan Henderson (31-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 45 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Vitor Belfort (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Quest (Temecula, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Pride MW & WW Title Holder
+   2x US Olympic Wrestling Team
+   Multiple Greco-Roman Accolades
+   UFC 17 Tournament Winner
+   Strikeforce LHW Champion
+   15 KO victories
+   14 first round finishes
–    2-8 in the last 5 years
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Physically strong in clinch
+   Devastating right hand
^   Sometimes throws self out of position
+/-Slips head heavily right
^   Often dips low on entries
^   Counter availabilities
+   Solid top game
^   Dangerous ground striker
–    Dropped/stopped in 7 of last 10



Hector Lombard (34-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 38 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 72″1/li>
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Neil Magny (2-19-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Bellator Middleweight Title
+   Judo Olympian (Cuba)
+   Black Belt BJJ & Judo
+   22 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   21 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Athletic & Explosive
+   Excellent TD defense (81%)
^   Strong hips & base
+   Dangerous inside the clinch
^   Throws, trips, dirty boxing
+   Solid positional control
+   Accurate right hook
+   Deadly left hand/uppercut
+   Deceptive distance closer
–    Subject to activity lulls
^   Gas tank bears watching


In a middleweight matchup of two accoladed veterans, Dan Henderson welcomes Hector Lombard back to the division. Moving up from welterweight, Hector was hungry for a quick turnaround after a disappointing loss to Neil Magny in March. Also looking to get back into the cage after an extended camp, the legendary Dan Henderson will once again attempt to get back on the path to glory.

In what feels like a heavyweight affair, both men still carry the knockout power and aggressive natures that got them to the dance. However, Hector is the fighter who has shown to maintain his reaction times as he should hold a clear speed advantage. That said, Lombards athletic supremacy does not come without a caveat. Demonstrating a propensity to fade as the fight goes on, Hector is very dangerous in the first round and subject to activity lulls throughout contests.

Should Henderson weather an early storm, the savvy veteran could potentially exploit Lombard as the battle wears on. The problem with that is, I am not sure how confident I am that Dan’s chin will hold as he has been dropped or stopped in 7/10 of his last fights. Not only that, but Henderson’s on-paper tendencies may play into Hector’s on-paper strengths. Often leaning his head heavily to the right, Henderson keeps his devastating H-Bomb loaded. However, this habit leads Dan into the power side of southpaw attacks as we saw in his most recent bouts with Vitor Belfort.

Although Hector does not possess the kicking acumen of Belfort, the Cuban Olympian does wield a destructive left uppercut as this was the culprit in Dan’s first stoppage loss to Vitor. Henderson will not only have to mind this on his entries but also the deceptive check right hook of Hector. Dan’s best chances of winning this fight may come from his counter right hand as opposed to his traditional offensive H-Bomb. As we saw in his fights with Fedor Emelianenko & Tim Boetsch, Henderson can still be a threat when going backward. If Lombard sleeps on Dan’s abilities here, he may be in for a rude awakening.

Despite Henderson’s well-accoladed career in clinch fighting, he may not have the technical edge in this matchup as he was accustom to early in his career. A technically competent fire hydrant inside the clinch, Hector has been proven difficult to deal with as he bears explosive trips & tosses that he carried over from his Judo background. I am not sure that Henderson can successfully navigate Lombard’s threats at this stage of his career as I feel Hector will use clinch opportunities to stall or score points.

Although it may not sound like it from reading this summary, I have been a huge Dan Henderson fan for the past decade of following this sport. There is nothing more I would love to see than Hendo ride off into the sunset with a win, but I am not sure that this is the matchup for that.

Official Pick: Lombard – Inside the distance



Dustin Poirier (18-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Joe Duffy (1-2-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   9 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   11 first round finishes
+   Cuts off cage well
+   Accurate straight/counter left
+   Excellent right hook
+   Hard left body kicks
+   Solid pressure against fence
^   Looks to overwhelm w/volume
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Improved shot entries/takedowns
+   Diverse submission game
+   Scrambles & transitions well
+   Active ground striker
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Right hand tends to lower
+   Improved durability & output at LW



Bobby Green (23-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Edson Barboza (11-22-14)
  • Camp: Pinnacle Fighting Systems (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Wrestling Base
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   9 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   will switch stances
^   Accurate left from both sides
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Slips & rolls well w/strikes
^   Excellent head & trunk movement
+   Consistently works the body
+/-Underrated & under-used wrestling
+   Solid scramble & get-up ability
^   Fights hands / explodes up
+   Floats & transitions well on top
–    Hands low & head upright
^   Counter availabilities
–    Returning from a 19-month layoff
+   Good chin / physically durable


Kicking off the main card is a fantastic scrap in the lightweight division as Dustin Poirier takes on the returning Bobby Green. Plagued with injuries & adversities in the most recent chapters of Green’s career, Bobby will look to regain the momentum he had before his last fight against Edson Barboza back in 2014. Standing in the way of Green’s homecoming is Dustin Poirier, who has shown an incredible resurgence since moving back up the 155-pounds.

From their street personas to their technical skill sets, it is hard to imagine a scenario where this fight is not exciting. Although I expect this match to hit the mat on multiple occasions, I feel each man’s wrestling and scrambling abilities will make the majority of this fight play out standing. Despite his accoladed wrestling base, Bobby Green prefers to stand and strike with his opposition.

Stalking forward, Green will switch his stances up and often lead with a variety of kicks or darting left hands. Although criticized for keeping his hands low, Green is deceptively competent in slipping & rolling with punches as he utilizes a variation of the Philly Shell. Coupled with an in-fight trash talking acumen, Bobby’s style of approach often puts doubt or draws out his opposition prematurely as he looks to capitalize in exchanges.

Despite Green’s accusations of previous opponents avoiding exchanges, I doubt he will have to worry about that in this fight as Dustin Poirier is always willing to oblige. Consistently using a healthy variety of strikes, Poirier displays a technical aggression that at a certain point was beginning to cost him at featherweight. However, since moving up the lightweight, Dustin has shored up his footwork and defenses while maintaining his volume.

Regardless Poirier’s shown technical improvements, his aggressive stylings naturally leave him within the range of strikes. Left hands, in particular, have traditionally troubled Dustin as his right-hand has a tendency to lower in exchanges. Considering that Bobby is very active & accurate from his left side, this may be Green’s best opportunities to score in this fight. That said, Dustin has made concerted efforts in his boxing technique since his original appointment with Joe Duffy, as Poirier has been consistently working with top talent in Florida.

I believe the key intangible in this fight lies within the wrestling engagements. Many would argue that Green has under-used his underrated grappling skills throughout his UFC career, but I doubt that trend will change for this fight considering Poirier’s finishing prowess on the floor. Not just a multi-versed submission threat, it is Dustin’s activity and ability to scramble that makes the scrappy fighter a handful. I feel that Poirier should be able to largely dictate the grappling stanzas if he can ground Green, but getting him down will certainly be the big question.

Even though Bobby maintains an upright approach, his fast-twitch reactions and footwork make it difficult for his opposition to get in on his hips from the open. However, Green has shown susceptible to takedowns when forced against the fence. Luckily for Dustin, he specializes in cutting off the cage and forcing his opposition backward. Traditionally overwhelming his opponents with volume and dirty boxing, Poirier’s shown takedown motives & improvements off the fence will likely serve him well in this fight(or score with the judges at the very least).

With neither man the type to go quietly into the night, expect a close and competitive war. Although the skill set of Green can pose some serious problems for Dustin on paper, I feel that the intangibles stack heavily in the favor of Poirier. Although his aggression has got him caught speeding before, I believe Poirier’s shown fight-to-fight improvements(and seemingly upgraded chin) will ultimately see him through. If Green fails to hurt Dustin or sway the momentum early, I could see him getting outworked on the judges scorecards.

Official Pick: Poirier – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Ortega def. Guida
  • Dariush def. Vick
  • Penne def. Andrade
  • Miller def. Caceres
  • Breese def. Strickland
  • Wilson def. Da Silva
  • Mutapcic def. Casey
  • Kim def. Reyes

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Luke Rockhold
-Brian Ortega
-Max Holloway

Low Tier Picks:

-Urijah Faber
-Dan Henderson
-Bobby Green

Pieces for your parlay:

-Max Holloway
-Brian Ortega
-Jessica Penne

Props worth looking at(

-Breese/Strickland – Over 2 1/2: -190 (1 Unit)
-Dustin Poirier – by Decision: +145 (.05 Unit)
-Dominick Cruz – by Decision: -165 (1 Unit)
-Brian Ortega – ITD: -113 (1 Unit)

Fights to avoid:

-Beneil Dariush vs James Vick
-Cole Miller vs Alex Caceres
-Elvis Mutapcic vs Kevin Casey

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in worldwide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

Onnit Primal Bells


UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee



As a fight fan, you can’t ask for a much better match up than Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee.

This match up is easily one of the most fascinating ones of the year, and with the interim lightweight title on the line, the stake doesn’t get much higher. But the bigger meaning of the fight lies in that fact that a clear number one contender will be determined to virtually guarantee a future opportunity at the current champion, Conor McGregor.

The talks of McGregor next facing rival Nate Diaz next have been circulating for the past few weeks, but once this fight between Ferguson and Lee concludes, and someone walks out of the arena on Saturday with that interim championship around their waist, they will be very hard to deny for McGregor.

Although this fight is a very exciting match up, on paper, it may deceive some people as a mismatch, since Lee’s resume of wins doesn’t include too many top contenders. His biggest win was against Michael Chiesa in June of this year, Chiesa was ranked 6th at the time. But let’s look deeper into it and see what makes this one a must-see fight.

Where Ferguson Flourishes

Ferguson and Lee may be stylistically two completely different fighters, but their ground games and grappling are both extremely high level, possibly the top 3 in the division, a list that can’t leave out Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the grappling department, it is hard to decide a winner here.

Even about five months ago, I would have leaned towards Ferguson, but watching Lee take control against a high level grappler like Chiesa the way he did was beyond belief to be honest. Ferguson will have his hands full if the fight hits the canvas, and likewise for Lee. However, if there is one thing that Lee needs to watch out against Ferguson, it is the unorthodox style he brings, even in the grappling.

“El Cucuy” is a bizarre fighter, but in a good way. Watch him fight against Edson Barboza and do a couple of imanari rolls. Watch him roll while on the bottom against dos Anjos. It is mind-blowing how good he is with such peculiarity and Lee can’t overlook that.

With that being said, advantages for ‘El Cucuy’ are quite clear: Stand-up, cardio and experience. Ferguson showed time and time again what a well-rounded fighter he is, and his record shows it too. Out of 17 finishes on his win column, 9 of them are by knockout and 8 are by submission. He really is a fighter who can do it all.

Tony Ferguson defeated Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision in November of 2016 at UFC Mexico City.

We also know that his cardio is exceptional, this was displayed in his fight against Rafael dos Anjos, where he went five hard rounds with the former champion in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,382 feet. Just to give an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s altitude is 6,035 feet.

Ferguson knows what it is like to be in the deep waters. But when a fairly young fighter such as Lee reaches the later rounds, nobody knows how he will respond to the situation, so Ferguson has his advantages in the experience department laid out clearly.

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

‘The Motown Phenom’, on the other hand, is a completely different fighter with different strengths. He possesses advantages in the physical department, career mileage, and in the fact that he has less pressure going into the fight. The physical advantage is the most obvious one for Lee. He has spoken before on the fact that he cuts from about 180-pounds, where Ferguson has talked about him being capable of making 145-pounds.

Ferguson may be taller, but it is not difficult to see that Lee is bigger when they stand next to each other. Lee’s second advantage comes from the fact that he is not as battle-tested. In a way, it could be a disadvantage, but he has taken considerably less amount of damage throughout his career compared to Ferguson. The last advantage for Lee listed was explained more specifically on my article ‘Tony Ferguson can’t afford to lose at UFC 216’. Feel free to go and check it out.

Kevin Lee defeated Michael Chiesa by first round submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC Oklahoma City in June 2017.

Now that both guys’ assets are laid out for this fight, it’s time to make a prediction.

Time and time again leading up to this fight, I’ve heard people say that this fight is going to end in a submission, and most say it’s going to come from Ferguson. I would agree with that but here’s one thing. As previously mentioned, Lee’s grappling is top-notch and he is brilliant defensively. This was evidenced when he was on the bottom against Michael Chiesa, a position in which he was easily able to escape.

I don’t believe Lee is a fighter that can be easily submitted. But here’s what I agree with most on: I also see Ferguson winning, because of his experience, cardio, and definitely unpredictability. Kevin Lee, while he is a very talented fighter, I believe it is just a tad bit too early for him at this moment.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) in the 5th round.


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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg



If Demetrious Johnson is able to defend his flyweight title this Saturday at UFC 216, it will be an attempt to break a major record, as he will then have defended his belt for the 11th consecutive time.

It is a remarkable record that he attempts to break, which is currently being held by Johnson and the former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, at 10.

When this fight was first announced for UFC 215, the reactions from the fans were not exactly what the UFC hoped it would be. There were two possible reasons for this, and maybe even both:

1) The talks of Johnson defending his title against T.J. Dillashaw was roaming around at the time, which got fans excited, only to disappoint them in the end when it wasn’t finalized.

2) Ray Borg is not necessarily a fighter that fans are dying to see yet, mainly because he is not the most marketable fighter and he is very young, which made us ask, “Is he ready for this opportunity?”

However, there is one thing we must keep in mind when looking at a fight between a dominant champion and a young rising contender: Expect the unexpected. We saw it last December when Dominick Cruz fought Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Who would have ever thought that Garbrandt would be able to outclass Cruz the way he did?

Cody Garbrandt provided yet another shock title change when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December of 2016.

But don’t get it mistaken. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. And although Borg could shock the world in this fight, it is way more reasonable to lean towards Johnson. After all, if we are being honest, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the closest thing to a perfect fighter. The only times he lost was to Brad Pickett, which was seven years ago, and to Dominick Cruz, who unlike ‘DJ’ is a natural bantamweight.

This is a tough fight for Borg. The only way for him to win is either catch Johnson with a big shot and finish him or keep up a ridiculous pace for 5 rounds straight and outmatch the champion with skills.

Borg is at a couple of disadvantages here, one being his cardio. “The Tazmexican Devil” has previously shown that he often has a tough time making the 125-pound weight limit, and if you add that to the fact that he never fought past three rounds, his cardio is in question. Whether he will be able to keep up with Johnson, who can put on a ridiculous pace for 25-minutes straight, remains to be seen.

Also, we never know what is going through a fighter’s head, so it will be interesting to see how Borg performs under pressure. He’s never had a title shot, and Johnson has been in the same spot 12-times in his career, so experience also goes to Johnson.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the champion in this fight. I do like Borg and what he brings to the table, however, too many questions are unanswered about Borg at this point to pick him over Demetrious Johnson.

Prediction: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown



The UFC makes its return to Canada as current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to break the record for most successful, consecutive, title defenses, against Ray Borg. Also on the card is a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, Gilbert Melendez makes his featherweight debut against power puncher Jeremy Stephens, Ilir Latifi looks to bounce back against Tyson Pedro, and Rafael dos Anjos looks to continue his welterweight journey against Neil Magny. Let’s take a look and see how it each fight plays out.

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez is a fighter who has built his career on being a talented boxer and being incredibly strong both in the clinch and the ground. For years he has been a monster for most lightweights to deal with. However, since having joined the UFC from Strikeforce he has gone just 1-4. In his last couple of fights, he has found himself slowed down due to unchecked leg kicks and opponents who are quicker than him. In an attempt to resurrect his career ‘El Nino’ has dropped down to featherweight and will meet former lightweight, himself, Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has made a career out of hitting hard, knocking opponents out with either hands, legs, or even his knees. Stephens is a fighter who excels in the pocket and has the durability to stand toe to toe with almost any opponent. In his last five fights, he has gone 2-3 due to his opponents being quicker than him and keeping him on the end of their punches.

How the fight will go

Gilbert will come into the fight as the stronger fighter with the better grappling game and better control of the Octagon. His excellent boxing will match-up well with Stephens. However, Stephens will come in as the faster fighter, harder puncher, and will already be used to cutting down to 145. Melendez will need to gain control of the Octagon early and keep Stephens against the cage both in the clinch and on the ground, in order to tire out “Lil Heathen”. If he can use his boxing to keep Stephens at the end of his punches, control the Octogan, and stay out of the pocket, it’s his fight to lose. Stephens does his best work in the pocket and although he’s slow for a featherweight he will have the advantage speed wise in this match-up. If he can keep his back off of the cage, gain control of the Octagon, land his powerful leg kicks, and mix up his powerful strikes, then he will have a dog in this fight and can very well pull off the upset.


Gilbert Melendez fights very similarly to the way he fought in the Pettis fight. He keeps Stephens’ back against the cage and forces him to the ground every chance he gets in order to tire him out. Stephens occasionally finds success using his speed and power in the pocket but eventually finds himself too tired to stop the stronger Melendez from imposing his game plan. Assuming Gilbert’s first cut 145 goes well, he beats Stephen’s via a close but clear decision to put his career back on track and start his journey at featherweight on the right foot.

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

Ilir Latifi is coming off of one of the most brutal knockout losses of 2016. He ate a huge knee from Ryan Bader in the second round of their fight and has not returned to the Octogan since. The Swedish ball of muscle looks to bounce back against the undefeated Australian Tyson Pedro. Tyson Pedro is a fighter who has never experienced anything beyond a first round stoppage win, his fight against Latifi represents his biggest test yet. Latifi is a fighter with a game centered around his incredible strength and power. He is a fighter who brings a calm energy in the cage and an interesting physique. He is only 5’10, the same height as former featherweight Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in height he makes up for with muscle. His muscle alone makes him one of the strongest and most powerful fighters in the UFC. Pedro is one of the tallest fighters in his division, coming in at 6’3 he’s used to being the stronger, taller fighter and likes to smother his opponents both on the ground and in the clinch.

How the fight will go

A lot of Pedro’s advantages come from being the taller, stronger fighter. He likes to keep his opponents at range, eat them up with oblique kicks, clinch up, take them down and find the stoppage. Latifi’s strength means clinching and takedowns won’t be easy. He can over power most opponents and avoid trouble in those areas. Latifi does have a tendency to get stuck on the outside and eat leg kicks, his tendency to rush in can lead to counters, like in the Bader fight. Latifi is an excellent wrestler but has trouble taking his opponents down, often expanding a lot of energy in the process. Pedro has been hurt before by his lack of head movement and that can lead to him taking big shots, Latifi can always find a big shot early on and take the Australian out.


This fight will all depend on how the first round goes. If Latifi can find his range early on he can land the knockout shot and finish the Australian. If he can’t, he will find himself on the outside where Pedro will pick him apart with body kicks and oblique kicks and hold him against the fence where the Swede will tire himself out. If Pedro stays patient he can tire out Latifi and score the finish. Pedro scores the upset and finishes an exhausted Latifi in the third round by TKO.

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos looks to win his second fight at welterweight as he faces long time contender Neil Magny. Dos Anjos is coming off of a well-fought decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in a fight that helped him discover how he stacked up against a real welterweight and how his body would hold up. He brings into this fight excellent body and leg kicks that he uses to break down his opponents and slow down their movement. He has a game that is perfectly suited for his height as he uses a lot of pressure and forward movement to make sure he stays on the inside. His excellent ground game has carried over to 170 as he uses his top pressure to smother his opponents. Neil Magny last fought against Johny Hendricks in a fight where he used his long range better and showed a new technique with his kicks to create range. Magny’s game uses excellent cardio, as well as good footwork and movement. He’s starting to better understand how to use his long and tall body. He also uses his long legs to create triangle attempts from the bottom.

How the fight plays out

If Magny can use his height and reach correctly he can leave Dos Anjos stuck on the outside, as well as using his footwork to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots. His cardio will keep him fresh throughout the three rounds and he can use that to his advantage if dos Anjos tires out. Dos Anjos will look to use his leg kicks to stop Magny’s footwork as well as use his powerful body kicks to sap his cardio. Dos Anjos’ pressure based game could very well negate Magny’s reach advantage and his smothering top game would keep Magny from using his reach.


Although Magny has the tools to beat dos Anjos, the Brazilian remains an elite fighter even at welterweight. Dos Anjos uses his leg and body kicks to slow down Magny as well as using his wrestling to tire the American out. Dos Anjos has fought tall opponents in the past and knows how to use his forward pressure to remove the reach advantage, as he did against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. The former lightweight champion takes a decision win and moves to 2-0 at welterweight.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko meet for the second time after fighting each other at UFC 196. The first fight ended in a close 29-28 decision win for the now champion Nunes. Nunes is a long and rangy kickboxer who likes to fight at range, where she uses her jab and cross keep her opponents back. She has been known to finish most of her fights early on, however, if she fails to do so she has a tendency to get tired, gas out, and get finished herself. Shevchenko, although undersized at 5’5, has been beating her opponents using her ever evolving ground game and her excellent Muay-Thai. Her patience and forcing her opponents to lead has brought her victories over top contenders like Holly Holm and Julianna Pena.

How the fight plays out

Amanda Nunes used her strength on the ground to beat Shevchenko in the first two rounds the last time they fought. Nunes didn’t have a whole lot of success on the feet as she was overpowered in the clinch and found herself having trouble with Shevchenko’s patience and lack of counter opportunities. Nunes’ ground game, while she was still fresh, was very dangerous last time out, nasty ground and pound as well as multiple submission attempts. However in the third round of their fight Nunes gassed and found herself too exhausted to overpower her opponent like she had done in the first rounds and found herself eating a lot of shots on the ground and in the clinch. If early on she can force Shevchenko to the ground and use her strength, she can find a submission or a ground and pound TKO. However, if she can’t, she’ll find herself getting tired in the later rounds and seeing her window for victory closing. This fight, being five rounds, heavily favors Shevchenko and her ever evolving game.


Much like in their first fight Shevchenko will stay patient and lose the early rounds. Her lack of activity hurt her last time out as well as Nunes’ aggressive ground game. If Nunes can use her strength early on, she can take Shevchenko down and have her way with her as she looks for the early finish. If Shevchenko can weather the early storm, she can take advantage of her tired opponent and finish her late. Shevchenko will force Nunes to lead and although she’ll have to weather the early storm, her patience will eventually pay off as her opponent tires herself out. Valentina Shevchenko finishes an exhausted Amanda Nunes in the fourth round by TKO to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg in an attempt to break the record for most successful consecutive title defenses. His 11th title defense comes against skilled wrestler Ray Borg and his ever evolving striking. Johnson brings to the Octagon one of the most well-rounded games in all of MMA. His excellent stand up paired with his world class grappling has not failed him at 125. His excellent footwork has always troubled his opponents and his lack of clear weaknesses means it’s difficult to exploit problems in his game. Ray Borg started his career as a world class grappler who would immediately take his opponents down and smother them until the fight was over or he was able to find a submission. His striking used to be a big weakness in his game until he started training with Brandon Gibson.

How the fight plays out

Ray Borg used to start his fights by immediately taking his opponents down and smothering them. Now that his striking improved he’s content with staying on the feet and striking with his opponents. This is where he will have problems against Johnson, Johnson is the much quicker fighter out of the two and will keep Borg on the outside. Borg’s incredibly short reach of 63” means he will need to cover a lot of distance, something he struggles with. Borg is not the quickest of flyweights and is a lot slower than Johnson. While Johnson has the bigger advantage on the feet, the wrestling is where it gets tricky. Borg’s ability to find the takedown and stay on his opponent is something he will need to use to tire out Johnson and force him to make a mistake. Johnson’s patience on the ground means he won’t panic if he goes down with Borg and has shown in the past he can easily get back up or even grapple with the best of them. Borg’s gas tank will be a problem in this fight, as Johnson never seems to tire out and is used to going five rounds. If Borg tires, Johnson will completely take over the fight.


Borg starts the first round on the feet and ends up getting frustrated as he finds Johnson too quick and gets stuck on the outside. He eventually finds the takedown and forces Johnson to go through some scary moments. Johnson survives the early storm on the ground and starts to run away with the fight in the third round as Borg starts to tire. Although the fight will be close on the ground, it’s obvious Johnson has all the advantages in the standup. Demetrious Johnson beats Ray Borg by unanimous decision to break the record for most successful title defenses in a row.

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