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UFC 199: Why Michael Bisping Can Win

Michael Bisping UFC

Michael Bisping steps into the Octagon Saturday night at UFC 199 as one of the year’s biggest underdogs. The title shot against Luke Rockhold was originally scheduled to go to Chris Weidman, but due to an injury he was forced to pull out. As a result, Bisping will get his first crack at a UFC title on just a few weeks’ notice.

Oddsmakers and fight fans aren’t giving the Brit much of a chance against Rockhold, but this fight could be much closer than you think. If you’re trying to talk yourself into picking Bisping, here’s some extra ammunition to back up your wager:

Remember the last short notice main event?

UFC 196 seems like a distant memory, but the main event featured another high-profile fight that was thrown together after an injury. Not many people were giving Nate Diaz a shot against Conor McGregor with only a few days to prepare, including oddsmakers who had Diaz anywhere from +300 to +400 depending on the sportsbook.

After a strong start by McGregor, Diaz’s high-volume striking began to take its toll on the Irishman, leading the way to a second-round submission win for Diaz that had a lot of bettors running to pick up their profits after backing the underdog.

The point is, at the highest level of MMA, no fighter should ever be counted out, especially when that fighter is the #4 ranked middleweight on a three-fight win streak.

A longer fight favors Bisping

There’s no denying what Bisping’s greatest strength is — his cardio. He’s an impressive 12-4 in his career in fights that go past the second round, including four straight wins in fights that go beyond the second round.

Luke Rockhold was exhausted in the late stages of his win over Chris Weidman, and this is something Bisping will be able to exploit if he can stay out of trouble in the first two rounds.

Rockhold is accustomed to short fights, usually because he ends them early, so it’ll be interesting to see how he might respond in an extended fight against one the of sport’s top cardio machines.

Did Bisping Get a Raw Deal in the First Fight?

Am I reaching here? Probably, but it can’t be denied that the first Rockhold-Bisping fight took a turn after an accidental headbutt busted Bisping’s previously injured left eye open. The injury gave Rockhold an edge that he took full advantage of on the way to a second-round submission.

The headbutt may have been more mentally jarring for Bisping, who’s shown to let distractions like this interfere with his performance, so hopefully he’ll be able to avoid similar interruptions on Saturday night.

While I think an upset is a possibility, Justin Hartling is much more confident in his prediction that Rockhold will defend his title.