UFC 199 Breakdown: Blood, Heartbreak, Destiny (And Ariel Helwani)

UFC 199 took place in Los Angeles, with a whooping 15,587 fans hungry for violence. Luckily, the event delivered. BIG TIME. It instantly became one of my favorite Pay-Per-Views ever. From top to bottom, the card presented some extremely emotional bouts with jaw-dropping results. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get to it.

The evening started with the Fight Pass exclusive prelims, and I’m happy to announce the UFC found the video package to promote the service for the next five years. Marco Polo Reyes and Dong Hyun Kim had one of the best fights I've seen in my life. It was three rounds full of brutal striking. Multiple knockdowns, a lot of blood, and a couple of concussions. The amount of violence displayed is only comparable to movies like Rocky. Anyone would have dropped after the first round. These warriors kept going. Fight of the night (and potentially of the year). Instantly made me a fan, and started the festivities in stunning fashion.

Following that, we skip to the preliminary card on FS1. The first contest I want to talk about it J├ęssica Andrade vs. Jessica Penne. This was Andrade’s debut in the strawweight division. I'm glad she went through with the change. She was getting overpowered by the bigger 135ers. Basing myself on this performance, she has a bright future. She dismantled Penne. Furious combinations that reminded me of Wanderlei Silva kept coming from everywhere. Penne was in trouble from bell to bell. The referee eventually interfered with the mercy stoppage. Not gonna lie, it instantly had me imagining Andrade vs. Jedrzejczyk for the belt.

The lower portion of the card came to an end as Brian Ortega faced The Carpenter, Clay Guida. Guida’s movement and combinations gave him the first two round, even if nothing extraordinary happened. Nevertheless, Ortega got loose and started gaining momentum in the third round. Less than 30 seconds away from a decision that would likely shatter his undefeated record, Ortega hit Guida with a knee to the jaw, dropping Clay to the ground. Only his second loss by knockout in 49 professional fights. Monumental win for Ortega.

Now, allow me to reiterate: UFC 199’s main card is this year's best sporting event (so far). I could elaborate on each fight for ages, but I'll try to keep it short.

There was an explosive beginning to the PPV, as Dustin Poirier knocked out Bobby Green. It was a weird performance by Green. From the minute the bell rang he dropped his hands and began to taunt Poirier. Dustin wasn't having it and he clipped Bobby with some hard shots. Poirier gets a finish and continues his deadly streak in the lightweight division. During the post-fight presser, he demanded a ranked opponent. I believe he deserves it.

Moving on, we witnessed a war between the legendary Dan Henderson and power-puncher Hector Lombard. Going into this one, we knew it would be a standing brawl. However, I expected Lombard to come out on top. I got it wrong. Both guys dropped each other during the initial round. On the second one, Hendo landed a head kick and a vicious elbow (something I didn't expect him to do in his 46th fight) that turn Lombard’s light off for multiple minutes. This was Henderson’s last fight in his current contract, so the victory leaves him in an interesting place to negotiate his future endeavors. On the other side, Lombard is on a 2 fight losing streak since he got busted using illegal substances.

Later, Max Holloway delivered one of my favorite moments in MMA history. After getting the better of Ricardo Lamas for 15 minutes, he has well on his way to a comfortable decision victory. Most people would be conservative and play it safe. Not Max Holloway. With ten seconds left in the clock, he asked Lamas if he wanted to go wild and throw. Following Lamas’ confirmation, they left all defense on the side and proceeded to throw reckless haymakers for the remaining of the bout. That's the exact reason why I'm a Holloway fan. A true fighter. I expect him to get a title shot within the next year.

Then, one of MMA’s most heated rivalries came to an end. Dominick Cruz successfully defended his belt against California’s own, Urijah Faber. In my preview article, I predicted Cruz’s angle cutting ability to incapacitate Faber. However, Urijah had a solid game plan. If you try to play the technique game with Dominick, he will demolish you. In my opinion, you must go out there and turn the cage into a jungle. During the first round, he did exactly that. Getting a big takedown and not allowing Cruz to get going. Nonetheless, the champion ended up dropping Faber with a mean right hand. He never truly recovered and Cruz was able to control every aspect of the game, retaining his belt with ease. If Dillashaw wins his contest at UFC 200, I expect a rematch between Dom and TJ.

Finally, the main event lived up to its name, providing us with the sport’s biggest upset since Holm vs. Rousey. Michael Bisping was filming a movie three weeks ago. All of a sudden, Chris Weidman had to be pulled from the fight and The Count got the shot. Every analyst in the sport (including myself) thought Rockhold would have a relatively easy night. I believed he would be able to play the range game and tear Michael apart. Again, I was dead wrong. Bisping put himself in the pocket in order to swing. He noticed Luke would drop his right hand after every combination. If you see the tape, you'll notice Bisping setting up the left hook a couple of seconds before the fatal blow. Eventually, he landed a couple of ferocious hooks that dropped Rockhold cold. Just like that, the first British champion in history was crowned. If you would have told me a year ago that Michael Bisping would defeat Anderson Silva and go on to become world champion, I would have called you insane. It just might be destiny. Where do these guys go from here? I would love to see Bisping vs. Souza, and a rematch between Weidman and Luke.

Sadly, a glorious night of fights came to a bitter end when news broke that Ariel Helwani and his team were banned from all future UFC events. Why? Well, Ariel reported Brock Lesnar's return a couple of hours before the company made the announcement. While I understand the frustration within the organization, Ariel should not be blamed or punished. The UFC is supposed to be the premiere organization of a beautiful sport. It shocks me to see them act in such possessing fashion. This is a journalist doing his job. The very best journalist in the sport, I might add. I hope Zuffa is able to listen and allow the MMA Fighting team to continue their incredible content.

Update: According to a statement made by the UFC, Ariel and his team's ban has been lifted. While I still believe a broader conversation about press within the organization needs to be had, I'm glad they heard their audience's response.

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