-210 #11 Dustin Poirier (19-4) vs. +180 #13 Bobby Green ( 23-6)
Dustin Poirier: “The Diamond” has been flawless since his move back up to lightweight last year. 3-0 in his new division, Poirier stunned many when he violently ended the hype train behind highly touted Irish prospect Joseph Duffy.
Poirier has always been a well rounded fighter, but the move up to lightweight has given him the strength and cardio that will make him a title contender.
Bobby Green: The 3rd “King” fighting on this card is Bobby Green, Green has been inactive since a November 2014 bout against Edson Barboza. Green lost the Barboza fight in what was essentially a kickboxing match, the decision lost snapped a 8 fight win streak Green had been riding.
A healthy Green has Diaz/T-2000 like stand up, never backing down and showing little to no effects from his opponents strikes. His output is low at times, but he makes up for it with his aggressiveness. Green will have many years ahead battling it out with the top 10 in the lightweight division.
The Fight: This has FOTN written all over it, Poirier is aggressive but maintains technical fundamentals extremely well. Green is also an aggressor, but tends to prefer to counter. Green went toe to toe with Barboza so he will not hesitate to trade with Poirier, but Poirier will be the one to get off first and take advantage of take down opportunities that will present themselves when Green is frustrated in the stand up. It will not be an easy victory but expect Poirier to eek this one out in a barn burner. Poirier Split Decision
+320 #15 Dan Henderson (31-14) vs. -385 #14 Hector Lombard (34-15-1 2 NC)
Dan Henderson: Hendo is a on quite an entertaining farewell tour, where his mentality is kill or be killed. Lately he has been on the wrong side of the killings, 4-6 in his last 10 bouts, Hendo has been going out on his shield with greater frequency in the pat 5 years.
As the old adage goes “power is the last thing to go” and Hendo’s power seems to have increased with age. Come Saturday night the H-Bomb will be set for launch and if it connects it’s tough to imagine anyone surviving.
Hector Lomabard: “Showeather” (which I assume refers to Lombard’s legendary passion for meteorology) was one of the biggest question marks after the USADA era began.
After serving his one year suspension for testing positive for anabolic steroids, Lombard was TKO’ed by Neil Magny in a fight that he almost finished in the first but blew his wad and was rendered helpless to a fit Magny, who pounded the lifeless Lombard out.
Now back at Middleweight Lombard will lose some of the power, but will benefit from a speed and cardio increase.
The Fight: If all goes well these two will meet in the center of the ring and engage in chaos. Their grappling should cancel each others out leaving this one to be decided in the stand up realm.
Lombard will have a noticeable speed advantage and he has been known to have a solid beard.
Early success on the feet will make Lombard careless, leaving Hendo his opening to uncork his right from hell turning Lombard’s lights out. Henderson Knockout 1st
+255 # 5 Ricardo lamas (15-4) vs. -305 #4 Max Holloway (15-3)
Ricardo Lamas: Lamas has been in the thick of things at featherweight since its UFC inception in 2011. 7-2 since the WEC merger, Lamas has used his used his first-rate wrestling and boxing to earn his contender status with wins over Dennis Bermudez, Cub Swanson and Hacran Dias.
A impressive win over Holloway would likely set Lamas up for a title shot, but who the champion will be is a little up in the air. Who knows whats happening with McGregor, the Aldo vs Edgar interim belt might end up being the unified belt. Either way, Lamas matched up against any of these 3 would be worth the price of admission.
Max Holloway: This hungry Hawaiian has been on a tear as of late, currently on a 8 fight win streak, Holloway has displayed all of the skills necessary to compete at a championship level.
At only 24 years of age Holloway is a next generation fighter that is truly excellent in every position. It’s looking more and more like B.J. Penn’s combat days are through, leaving Holloway as the new face of Hawaiian MMA and possibly in the near future, the face of the Featherweight division.
The Fight: Holloway is going to be too slick in this one, off of his back on the feet or in the clinch, Holloway will be one step ahead of Lamas. The biggest difference maker will be Holloway’s footwork, it will keep him out of takedown range while allowing him to pepper Lamas from the outside. Holloway Unanimous Decision.
-485 C Dominick Cruz (21-1) vs. +385 #2 Urijah Faber (33-8)
Dominick Cruz: Cruz did not miss a beat when he reclaimed the title that was stripped from him nearly 4 years earlier. Cruz schooled Urijah’s former prize pupil T.J Dillashaw in what was a 5 round clinic on Cruz’s unique brand of combat.
Cruz takes a fair amount of criticism for not finishing fights, but there is no one in his division that can solve the riddle that he presents.
Cruz personifies the evolution of mixed martial arts, he has brought the sport to a whole new level by crafting a style based on the failures and successes of fighters that came before him. Over time, trainers and fighters will crack the code that is Dominick Cruz and advance the ever evolving sport yet again.
Urijah Faber: “The California Kid” helped to put smaller fighters on the map in MMA. From his championship reign in the WEC (which included a victory over Dominic Cruz, his only loss to date), to his creation of the premier gym for for fighters at smaller weight classes Team Alpha Male.
Faber will have the opportunity to cap his iconic career with a storybook ending Saturday night by defeating his arch nemesis, and capturing the UFC gold that has evaded him his entire career, before riding off into the sunset.
The Fight: Faber is not going to be the guy to figure out Cruz’s style, he lacks the speed and technique to keep up with the champ. This will resemble their second fight, Cruz will be on the move, tagging Faber and stuffing takedown attempts en route to defending his strap.Cruz Unanimous Decision
-680 C Luke Rockhold vs.+505 #4 Mike Bisping (29-7)
Luke Rockhold: This will be Rockhold’s first attempt at defending his middleweight belt. Minus a Vitor spinning heel kick, Rockhold has been about as close to perfect in his career as one could be. The AKA champ is what you get when god given athleticism meets obsessive-compulsive work ethic.
If Rockhold can get by Bisping, he will have a rematch with Weidman or Jacare waiting on deck this Summer.
Mike Bisping: “The Count” will finally get his long awaited title shot, though not in the most ideal of conditions, his opportunity will come on a few weeks notice to a man who thoroughly thrashed him a year and a half ago.
Despite the odds being stacked against Bisping, he has some of the better technical striking in the middleweight division and could conceivably point fight his way to victory, if he can stay out of Rockhold’s path of destruction.
The Fight: If Bisping is able to pull this one off it would be an upset of GSP vs. Serra magnitude , it would be a one of, if not the, biggest upset in MMA history.
Even with a torn MCL, Rockhold has far too many weapons for Bisping. Bisping will put up a better fight than the first time but will ultimately succumb to Rockhold’s punishment. Rockhold 3rd TKO