All fighters on the card for UFC 199 have made weight and cleared medical exams for tomorrow’s event in Inglewood, California, which will feature title defenses in two divisions.
Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and challenger Michael Bisping both met their 185-pound requirement to make things official for their title fight, which will be a rematch of the two fighters’ who first met in November of 2014. Rockhold won that fight in spectacular fashion, landing a flashy submission via one-armed guillotine choke from mount in the second round after connecting with a succession of his infamous kicks.
Rockhold’s ability to defend his title in this June 4th event has been in question multiple times leading up to it, first with his original opponent Chris Weidman being forced out of the bout with an injury on less than three weeks’ notice, then with the title shot offered to Jacare Souza getting turned down also due to injury, then with Rockhold himself needing an MCL injury examined before he could be cleared to fight. CSAC doctors ultimately diagnosed the champion with a grade 2 MCL sprain and cleared him to rematch the UFC’s third choice for a challenger in Bisping, who earned his crack at the gold with an exciting unanimous decision win over the all-time great Anderson Silva in his last fight.
Despite the breathtaking achievement of racking up nearly five and a half hours of Octagon time in the UFC (second only to Frankie Edgar and Georges St. Pierre), this will be Bisping’s very first title shot in the ten years he’s been with the promotion.
Also fighting for UFC gold will be longtime rivals Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, who both made weight for their bantamweight contest at 135 and 134.5 pounds, respectively. Despite the very uneven odds (the champion Cruz is a -500 favorite to win), this will be a rubber match, with each fighter holding a victory over the other in previous title contests. The rivalry began all the way back in 2007 when the then-WEC Featherweight king Faber made short work of Cruz, submitting him with one of Team Alpha Male’s notorious guillotine chokes early in the very first round. Cruz evened the score years later with a back-and-forth unanimous decision victory over Faber in 2011, but the rubber match became an impossibility until now due to a frustrating series of injuries over the following years that nearly ended Cruz’s career.
Cruz has looked fantastic in his return to the sport, taking a hard-fought split decision over the dominant TJ Dillashaw (a former training partner of Faber’s) and relieving him of his bantamweight crown.
If Faber loses tomorrow’s match, he will become the only fighter in UFC history ever to go 0-4 in consecutive title fights for the same belt.
Also on the main card is an exciting featherweight matchup with major title implications for the winner. Rising star Max Holloway, ranked number 4 in the division by the UFC, will take on number 5-ranked Ricardo Lamas in what’s sure to be a fast-paced crowd pleaser wherever the fight goes. Holloway hasn’t tasted defeat since his 2013 decision loss to current featherweight king Conor McGregor, and has stayed very busy racking up eight consecutive victories ever since, most recently over feared striker Jeremy Stephens. Lamas has gone 3-1 since his loss to the previous champion of the division, Jose Aldo.
The legendary Dan Henderson will be making yet another Octagon appearance tomorrow as well, where at 45 years of age he’ll take on the number 14-ranked Hector Lombard in a contest at 185 pounds.
The main card of UFC 199 will be aired live on PPV Saturday June 4th at 10PM Eastern Time, 7PM Pacific.
[Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images]