“Not so fast, injury bug. The Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title will still be up for grabs.

After dethroning Chris Weidman in decisive fashion in December, Luke Rockhold had been gearing up to rematch the man he beat for the title. A neck injury put the bout on hold, and with Ronaldo Souza forfeiting his next-in-line status due to post-fight injuries of his own, Michael Bisping was the logical choice to replace Weidman in the UFC 199 main event on Saturday in Los Angeles. After suffering a devastating loss to Vitor Belfort in his promotional debut in 2013, Rockhold has put together a five-fight, five-finish winning streak, including a dominant second-round submission win over Bisping. Rockhold fought twice in 2015, but this will be his first fight of 2016.

On the other side of the cage will be longtime veteran and “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner Bisping. He entered the UFC as an undefeated prospect in 2006 and has been fighting at middleweight since 2008, making Bisping one of the longest-tenured fighters on the UFC roster in any weight class. In spite of that, this will be Bisping’s first appearance in a title fight, having lost in high-profile title eliminator matches to Dan Henderson in 2009 and Chael Sonnen three years after. Since losing to Rockhold in 2014, Bisping has won three straight, a streak he capped with a career-defining win over the legendary Anderson Silva in February. Thus, this will be his second fight of the year, matching the number of Octagon appearances he made in 2015.

While this may not be the first-choice title matchup for fight fans, there are intriguing narrative and stylistic elements to it. Here is what the Tale of the Tape says…”

Likeanalysis, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, statistics, UFC 199

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