It is really kind of the UFC to put on two great fights on anniversary of my glorious birth, ain’t it? If you’re a fan of bad blood and foreigners, the Rockhold/Bisping tilt might be your cup of tea. If you are a PRIDE Never Die nostalgic like me, you are counting the seconds until the inimitable Shogun Rua takes the stage again. No matter which scrap you tune into, you will likely be entertained, and dare I say captivated? There are wayyy to many meaningful fights taking place in the UFC this weekend, Dana’s assistant must have flubbed up the scheduling. Hey! As fight fans, we’ll take it! I’ll break down the main events for you after the jump.
Luke Rockhold v. Michael Bisping
Most every Michael Bisping fight starts off with a pre-fight war of words. The toothy Brit sure seems to enjoy stirring up trouble with his opponents. The high-level gatekeeper hasn’t had an amazing run as of late, though, it should be noted he has run into almost every notorious juice monkey in the business. Bisping hasn’t been able to back up his lauding gab since he TKO’d Mayhem at the TUF 14 Finale. It’s safe to say, that wasn’t necessarily prime Mayhem either. Earlier this year, the Brit beat the stuffing out of the aging Cung Le, who is more B-movie star than fighter nowadays.
As for his opponent, I think Luke Rockhold is one of the top fighters in the 185 lb. division. Simpyl said, Bisping doesn’t fall into this tier. Rockhold has shown some vicious finishing prowess since rebounding from his whirling dervish loss to Vitor Belfort. Rockhold’s striking is something else, man. He is rangy, yet powerful. He has a similiar precision to Anderson Silva and a bag of tricks the same size as a young Conor McGregor. I mean, did you see that triangle he threw Tim Boetsch in? That was absurd.
Rockhold is a 4-1 favorite according to Vegas, and that makes complete sense. His strikes finish fighters, Bisping’s decisively don’t. I see no possible way that Bisping puts Rockhold out, therefore Luke has 25 minutes to tee off on the Brit’s dome. That doesn’t bode well for The Count. Luke will keep his range and punish Bisping with darts early. He’ll catch something stiff late in the third and drop The Count for a TKO win. Rockhold by TKO.
Shogun Rua v.
Jimi Manuwa Ovince St. Preux
Damn. Just damn. Shogun and Manuwa would have stood in front of eachother and tossed hillbilly haymakers until somebody took a dirt nap. Now with Manuwa’s injury and the injection of OSP, we may see an ugly grindfest where the former footballer stifles Shogun’s brutal onslaught.
Last time we saw Shogun, he was thoroughly beating the bricks off Old Man Hendo before the H-Bomb exploded and Shogun was asking who turned out the lights. Shogun looked good, even great, before that shot landed. I was really amped up for this fight in Brazil, knowing Manuwa’s propensity to stand, I even thought we would get some vintage Shogun wreckage. That was not to be.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a massive OSP detractor as some are. Any hype he had garnered in the MMA community was rushed away after his performance against Ryan Bader. It wasn’t exactly exhilarating, to say the least. OSP has oodles of talent, but he joined the MMA game too late. His technique leaves something to be desired, yet the physical traits are certainly there.
That is exactly what scares me about this fight. While Shogun’s technique and mentality are second to none, his athleticism has dwindled in recent years. OSP is a peak athlete that willl undoubtedly dwarf Shogun come fight night. Let’s all hope he doesn’t hold the former PRIDE Champ against the cage until the final bell tolls. It’s my birthday weekend, I’m being an optimist. Shogun will land some devastating knees out of the clinch and knock OSP into next week in the middle of the second round.
Two great fights, two great finishes. Happy birthday, ALar!