Michael Bisping had a little more than two weeks to prepare for his long-awaited first Ultimate Fighting Championship title shot. Once the veteran contender received the UFC 199 chance to meet Luke Rockhold for the middleweight belt Saturday night at the Forum, Bisping said it didn't matter if it was "two weeks, two days, two hours, two minutes," as he kicked in the door of opportunity and stunningly knocked out Rockhold in the first round. The 37-year-old Bisping (30-7) becomes the first fighter from England to wear a UFC belt. "I've always been a fighter, there's nothing that I do better," Bisping said afterward. "This is my dream, no one can take this away from me." Bisping and Rockhold (15-3) exchanged some uneventful punches and kicks before the 10-year UFC veteran unleashed a wild left-handed punch that caught Rockhold flush on the jaw, knocking him to the canvas.
Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping will be at each other's throats Saturday night in pursuit of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's middleweight belt, but the two adversaries found shared happiness Friday over the UFC's new early weigh-in experiment. "One-hundred-eighty-five [pounds] on the dot! Championship weight, baby!" Bisping roared just after 10 a.m. while standing atop the official California State Athletic Commission scale set up on the lower floor of the Manhattan Beach Marriott. Rockhold, the reigning champion, also met the 185-pound limit on the mark for his UFC 199 main event at the Forum, and bellowed, "Let's eat!" A first for the UFC, the morning weigh-in has been advocated by Andy Foster, the California commission's executive officer, and Jeff Novitzky, UFC's vice president of fighter safety, as an effective response to concerns that fighters haven't been afforded proper time to rehydrate from the time of late-afternoon weigh-ins to their Saturday night bouts.
Stipe Miocic captured the UFC heavyweight crown from Fabricio Werdum via first round knockout in the main event of UFC 198 in Werdum's home country of Brazil. Werdum chased after Miocic recklessly and Miocic made him pay for it. Next up for Miocic is likely Alistair Overeem, who won his fourth fight in a row by knocking out Andrei Arlovski. Cain Velasquez could also play spoiler for Overeem if he looks particularly impressive in a fight against Travis Browne at UFC 200. Jon Jones returned to action at UFC 197, defeating Ovince St. Preux via unanimous decision in a fight that felt more like a sparring session.
Duane Ludwig wants to see UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw extract revenge on Dominick Cruz in a rematch if a super-fight with Demetrious Johnson falls through. Following his win over Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217 in November last year that saw him become a two-time champion, Dillashaw called out flyweight champion Johnson for a super-fight to determine who the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world was. Despite months of no updates, it looked like the much-awaited contest was close to fruition with rumors that it would take place on the stacked UFC 226 card on July 7. However, UFC President Dana White texted Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday stating that the fight was never made and that Johnson is out for a while with injury. Despite the now revealed unavailability of "Mighty Mouse," the fight could have been made months ago and Ludwig, who coaches Dillashaw, believes the holdup came from a lack of agreement on the date and fight purses of both fighters.
Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz, both title holders in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, have a deep appreciation for what they endured to win their belts. But on Saturday night their titles are on the line in separate bouts at the Forum in UFC 199. Rockhold (15-2) is making his first middleweight title defense against Michael Bisping, 37, a veteran top-10 contender who has never fought for a UFC belt. Meanwhile, Cruz (21-1) is defending his bantamweight belt against Urijah Faber, also 37. Faber dealt Cruz his only loss nine years ago in the World Extreme Cagefighting circuit. But Cruz won the rematch in 2011 and Faber has lost all three of his shots at either an outright or interim UFC belt.