UFC 199 turned out to be a night of surprises. Dan Henderson isn’t done, but Urijah Faber might be. Luke Rockhold is not the next Anderson Silva. And, yes, Brock Lesnar is back.
The UFC is sports and the WWE is sports entertainment, but UFC 199 looked a lot like sports entertainment Saturday night at Forum in Ingelwood, California. Amazing comeback finishes and squash endings, where “the good guys,” Henderson and Bisping, thrilled the crowd. The mention of Lesnar, the UFC and WWE legend who plans to compete at UFC 200 in July and then WWE SummerSlam in August, shook the industry, so much so that a prominent MMA journalist was escorted out of the arena and ridiculously, but temporarily, “banned.”
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UFC 199 is when the sport met the entertainment and the line became possibly permanently blurred. Let’s take a look at the biggest Takeaways from UFC 199.
6. Luke Rockhold’s Future
Rockhold looks like a million bucks. But that apparently isn’t enough to compete at the highest level in MMA. Rockhold on paper appears to be the future of the sport, but twice now Rockhold has folded when hit on the jaw. Vitor Belfort knocked him out and now Michael Bisping. The problem with Rockhold is that there’s nothing he can do to strengthen a jaw. The legendary Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns was long like Rockhold, but couldn’t take a stiff punch to the face, and was knocked out because of it.
Rockhold will have to do more than talk to become a UFC legend; he will need to become a smarter fighter. He can’t afford to keep getting knocked out badly. The blueprint to beat Rockhold is out there. Rockhold needs to change and drop the smug attitude and keep up a desire to learn.
5. Rockhold as a Role Model
Let’s hope people realize that Rockhold is a poor loser and that his attitude after the fight is no way to behave. He refused to join Bisping and the referee for the post-fight announcement of the winner. When Joe Rogan interviewed him after the fight, Rockhold kept one hand on the cage, instead of conducting the interview inside the middle of the Octagon.
Later, right after the press conference, he refused to shake Bisping’s hand. Rockhold didn’t earn any fans at UFC 199; he lost them. When it comes time for him to make more money, to get the big fights, to become a hero of the sport, he’ll regret his actions. Rockhold needs to do what every other fighter does when they lose. Suck it up, learn from the loss and move on.
4. Bisping vs. Henderson
Bisping destroyed an overconfident Rockhold. The Santa Cruz surfer doesn’t deserve an immediate rematch. Rockhold needs to go fight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in a No. 1 contender’s match. The public wants Bisping vs. Henderson 2. The fight makes a lot of sense. Henderson is on the verge of retirement, yet knocked out Lombard in dramatic fashion. Henderson holds a KO victory over Bisping, one of the greatest MMA knockouts ever. It’s a fight the public would want to see. Win or lose, Henderson could retire after receiving one final title shot. These are two likable guys who would put on a slug and entertain the crowd.
3. Urijah’s Last Shot?
Faber has no one to blame but himself. If you are a submission artist your strategy should be simple: take your opponent to the ground. Faber failed to shoot for any takedowns after he took a Cruz left hand. It’s better to die fighting than survive by running. Faber couldn’t pull the trigger and instead lost five rounds to Cruz. Unless he’s a last-minute replacement to save a show, Faber is never going to get another title shot. Faber should call out Demetrious Johnson and maybe set up a mega-fight before Johnson gets a bantamweight title shot. Faber might be able to regain some of his luster to taking on Johnson.
2. Dominick Cruz is Really, Really Good
Cruz still continues to impress after bouncing back from a nearly four-year layoff to win the bantamweight title he never lost. He looked quicker, smarter and more talented against Faber. The fight, in all honesty, was a total mismatch. Faber was never competitive. Cruz showed he can stay several steps ahead of his opponent. What happens when you combine a talented fighter with a smart fighter? You get Cruz, who looks unbeatable right now.
1. The Beast Incarnate is Back
No one saw this coming. Lesnar was supposedly retired from MMA and the UFC. He announced on ESPN earlier this year that he was going to remain with the WWE. UFC President Dana White, apparently, had other ideas. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani broke the news, and apparently was escorted out of the building and banned for life, for allegedly not checking with the UFC first. That story will continue to unfold, but the UFC confirmed the Lesnar announcement on the PPV show later that evening.
Lesnar stands to make several million dollars to appear at UFC 200, in a fight that will attract the professional wrestling audience to the show. To say this is unreal and unbelievable is an understatement. Not only is Lesnar the first guy to win the UFC and WWE heavyweight championships, he is the first guy to fight in both companies, simultaneously. Brock’s appearance will boost both the UFC and the WWE. Lesnar is just printing money for these organizations.
Who will Lesnar face? At the end of the day, it does not matter who he faces, whether he wins or loses, or how he does. Lesnar links the WWE and the UFC, and transcends both.