The war of words is over, UFC middleweights Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping will finally settle their differences inside the octagon in Sydney, Australia. The confrontation and insults have been non stop since the fight between the two had been announced, and actually had been simmering for quite a while. All stemming from a former sparring session between the two, Bisping jokingly claimed himself as the Strikeforce middleweight champion when asked about the time between the two. Obviously Rockhold did not take to kind to Bisping’s claims, and ever since the two have been at each other’s neck. Weigh ins are over, it is time to settle this feud inside the UFC octagon. Not only is pride on the line, future UFC title implications may be as well.
#5 Luke Rockhold (12-2) vs. #9 Michael Bisping (26-6) Middleweight Bout – Michael Bisping sure makes it hard to pick against him after a performance like he had against Cung Le. The guy just keeps showing the unwillingness to let age be his maker, and continues to roll through challenges he is not supposed to surpass. Critics got to give him one with the Kennedy fight, the long layoff had a tremendous effect on the way he performed that night. Rockhold is a true title contender though, and could really close the door on Bisping’s contender-ship status if he can pick up the victory. Rockhold’s striking has become some of the best in the division, and his kicks can make anybody quiver in fear. Bisping has always been a volume striker, and will look to stick within his range and pick his shots on Luke. The former Strikeforce champion does have the height and reach advantage though, and will look to stalk “The Count” down and rattle him with jarring strikes of his own. This section hates to do it again, but the pick here is Luke Rockhold. It may not be a first round knockout as Rockhold predicted, he should pick up the victory though. Have to give Bisping some credit, he is a tough cookie to put away unless your name is Dan Henderson or Vitor Belfort. Luke Rockhold via Unanimous Decision.
Ross Pearson (18-7) vs. Al Iaquinta (9-3-1) Lightweight Bout – Pearson’s shear aggression and willingness to get into a slugfest always makes him worthy draw for a UFC co main event. Al Iaquinta is an intriguing match up for Pearson, and could present many problems through the rounds. They practically mirror one another stylistically, in which could lead to a very entertaining bout and to possible fight of the night honors. The Ray Longo camp has been on fire as of late, and so has Iaquinta; experience may weigh more in this fight though. A fire fight is in the making with this one, Pearson may edge Iaquinta in a barn burner. Ross Pearson via Unanimous Decision.
Robert Whittaker (13-4) vs. Clint Hester (11-3) Middleweight Bout – When is the UFC going to give Clint Hester a top 15 ranked fighter? All the guy has done is knock off four in a row in the UFC middleweight division and seven in a row. Whittaker is a newcomer to the division, a former welterweight and ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winner, The Aussie may have a definitive speed advantage over “Headbussa”. Sooner or later though, Hester is going to find his range and connect with a few bombs on Whittaker. He may have the speed advantage, but the power may be hard to overcome if he cannot avoid the shots. Clint Hester via Technical Knockout.
Soa Palelei (21-4) vs. Walt Harris (6-3) Heavyweight Bout – Survive the early onslaught and take down attempts should be Walt Harris’ game plan against UFC heavyweight, Soa Palelei. He must get out of the first round, and not expend his gas tank while doing so. Soa will come forward quickly, and if he gets Harris to the ground, the end could be very near for the former basketball player. Harris has the advantage standing, and could use his athleticism to sneak out-of-the-way of the slower Palelei. Prediction here is that Walt Harris will find his way to the ground at some point, and receive quite a few “Hulk” smashes in the process. Soa Palelei via Technical Knockout.
In other notable bouts the rising prospect Jake Matthews steps back into the octagon against Vagner Rocha; while crowd favorite Vic Grujic takes on Chris Clements earlier on in the card. For anything and everything UFC and MMA related, stay tuned into the Guardian Liberty Voice for live coverage.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA