UFC 199 took Inglewood, California by storm last weekend (Sat., June 4, 2016) on pay-per-view (PPV), and MMA fans were blessed with one of the most exciting events in recent memory.
Of all thirteen bouts that took place Saturday night, eight of them ended with someone taking an early nap on the canvas. Title contenders emerged, rivalries were ended, legacies were solidified, and a new champion was crowned to the surprise of many.
Aside from the event itself, a pair of exciting developments were revealed, as a rematch between two brash rivals was made official, and a former champion’s return was shockingly unveiled.
UFC 199 has given us plenty to talk about, so let’s jump right into the seven biggest takeaways from the groundbreaking night of fights…
7. ‘Hendo’s’ Still Got It
UFC legend Dan Henderson returned to the Octagon Saturday night seven months after suffering a devastating head kick KO loss to Vitor Belfort to take on Hector Lombard, who made his middleweight return after being obliterated by Neil Magny in March.
Despite being rocked early on in the first round of the heavy-hitting bout, ‘Hendo’ was able to put the Cuban away with a head kick, a crushing back elbow to the temple, and some nasty forearms for good measure.
This was Henderson’s first win since June of last year when he defeated Tim Boetsch via KO at UFC Fight Night 68 just twenty-eight seconds into the first round.
Henderson’s victory over Lombard was the first bout his entire family had ever seen him compete in live. Following the bout, “Hendo” admitted that he is contemplating retirement; however, he did state in the post-fight press conference that he didn’t want to make any decisions just yet.
6. Max Holloway Is The Real Deal
Since losing to current featherweight champion Conor McGregor in 2014, Max Holloway has been on an absolute tear, as he now rides a nine-fight win streak with his win over Ricardo Lamas in Inglewood.
Holloway is currently the No. 4-ranked featherweight in the world, and took on the No. 5-ranked Lamas, who has been in the Octagon with the best there is in the 145-pound class.
Lamas went the distance with former 145-pound king Jose Aldo back at UFC 169, suffered a first-round TKO loss to three-time title challenger Chad Mendes, and was coming off of a unanimous decision win over Diego Sanchez in November.
Holloway controlled the pace of the fight, landing some vicious shots on Lamas throughout the bout’s progression, nearly putting ‘The Bully’ away a few times in the process. The Hawaiian’s steady evolution into the superb 145-pound talent he is today has been amazing to watch, and the fact that he is only 24 years of age makes it all the more fascinating.
With his win Saturday night, Holloway is due for a huge step up in competition, but with featherweight champion McGregor set to throw down with Nate Diaz at UFC 202, and No. 1 and 2-ranked featherweights Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar set to battle for the interim belt at UFC 200, Holloway might have to wait a while before finding a viable dancing partner to step up his game.
If he doesn’t want to wait, No. 3-ranked Mendes could be an interesting bout for the surging young Hawaiian.
5. Dominick Cruz Ends His Longtime Rivalry With Urijah Faber
The legendary rivalry between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber came to an abrupt end this weekend when Cruz took home a unanimous decision victory over ‘The California Kid’ to successfully retain his title.
The two men’s storied rivalry goes as far back as 2007 when they met under the now defunct WEC banner, with Faber defeating Cruz via guillotine to retain his then featherweight title. This would remain Cruz’s only blemish on his record, as he would go on to be a dominant 135-pound champion in the UFC after winning its inaugural title against Scott Jorgensen.
Cruz made his first-ever UFC bantamweight title defense against Faber at UFC 132 in 2011, which resulted in ‘The Dominator’ successfully retaining his title via unanimous decision and avenging his previous loss to Faber in the process.
The pair were originally set to have their rubber match at UFC 148 for the bantamweight title, but Cruz would suffer a long string of injuries keeping him out of the title picture for almost four years.
Cruz finally made his long-awaited return to the title scene in January against former champion TJ Dillashaw, and won back the title he never lost via split decision after a close five-round scrap. Cruz and Faber finally got their opportunity to settle the score Saturday night, and the result was no different than their previous meeting at UFC 132.
From the beginning to the end of the five-round war Cruz used the masterful movement he’s come to be known for, and left Faber swinging at air for the majority of the twenty five minutes the two men spent inside the Octagon.
Cruz pressured Faber for the majority of the bout, taking him down multiple times and dropping ‘The California Kid’ with some powerful shots as well. In the end, Cruz would take home a lopsided unanimous decision victory, after the judges turned in scorecards of 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46.
4. Michael Bisping Finally Wins UFC Gold
While many counted ‘The Count’ out against the surging Luke Rockhold, Bisping remained confident that he would get the job done Saturday night, as he claimed it was his ‘destiny’ to be champion.
Then Bisping fulfilled that claim, walking out to the Octagon like a man on a mission, and taking care of business by KO’ing Rockhold in the first round to secure his first career UFC title.
Rockhold was adamant leading up to the bout that he would deliver a knockout unlike any other to successfully defend his title, but instead he was dropped by the same left hook that knocked down former UFC middleweight king Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva.
Following the bout, Bisping was surging with confidence, as he exchanged words with Rockhold at the post-fight presser while mentions of a trilogy bout loomed.
While Bisping said he would love to rematch Rockhold again down the line, he stated he first wishes to go on a tour knocking out some other fellow 185-pounders. One middleweight in particular Bisping mentioned is No. 2-ranked Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, who’s coming off of a first-round finish of Vitor Belfort at UFC 198.
While we await the announcement of who ‘The Count’ will make his first UFC title defense against, Bisping is celebrating over 10 years of hard work finally paying off as he now has the gold he once so desperately yearned for strapped around his waist.
3. Ariel Helwani Banned For Life From UFC Events
Aside from the spectacular bouts that took place Saturday night, a bit of drama involving the UFC and highly respected MMA journalist Ariel Helwani went down as well.
According to Helwani via Twitter, he and his colleagues where escorted out of the arena by Zuffa security following the co-main event of the evening and had their credentials taken away as well. Helwani claims he did nothing ‘unethical’ and that he simply ‘reported fight news. That’s it’.
Reasons for Helwani’s removal from the event have yet to be confirmed by either party; however, it may be a case of UFC brass being sour over the fact that the journalist broke news of the return of Brock Lesnar and McGregor vs Diaz II being made official before the promotion revealed it themselves.
Helwani also claims that he has been ‘banned for life’ from all future UFC events. When asked about the incident in the post-fight press conference, UFC spokesman Dave Sholler opted not to comment on the situation aside from stating Helwani’s side of the story wasn’t competely accurate.
We’ll find out more today when Helwani addresses the situation on ‘The MMA Hour.’
2. McGregor vs. Diaz II Finally Made Official
As previously mentioned, the highly anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz was made official with a promo commercial during UFC 199.
McGregor and Diaz where initially set to headline the blockbuster UFC 200 card in July, but the Irishman refused to attend a press event in Vegas after claiming it would interfere with his training for the bout. UFC President Dana White responded to this by removing McGregor from the card altogether, resulting in a highly-publicized beef between the two sides.
The beef was essentially squashed, however, after McGregor and White met in Beverly Hills for a dinner meeting that saw both sides leaving relatively happy. White and Diaz then held a lunch meeting of their own, but the two sides were unable to agree on financial negotiations and the bout was once again put on hold.
It appears Diaz and White have come to an agreement, as the two attended UFC 199 together and embraced after the promo for the McGregor vs. Diaz II bout at UFC 202 was shown.
So now McGregor will finally get his opportunity to avenge his only UFC loss in a matter of two months, but will the result be any different?
1. Brock Lesnar Is Back
‘Can you see me now?’
These where the words that set The Forum off at the end of the epic UFC 200 promo that aired at UFC 199, revealing the return of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the co-main event of the historic July card.
Lesnar, who is currently under contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has been granted a ‘one-off’ appearance by WWE CEO Vince McMahon to compete on the UFC’s July card in Vegas.
The former heavyweight champion was last seen inside the Octagon in December of 2011, when he suffered a TKO defeat to current heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem.
Since the news broke, fighters have been taking to social media to make a case as Lesnar’s opponent in July, but the UFC has yet to make any decisions on who that may be as of now.
Regardless of who that opponent may be, the bottom line is that Lesnar will compete inside the Octagon once again….and it might get ugly.