MMA Review: #455: UFC: Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale

-Of all the seasons of TUF – outside of perhaps TUF China – I don’t think any received less buzz than TUF: Nations, AKA Team Canada vs. Team Australia. Even I got a bit tired of the series at about the halfway point and I’m a total UFC junkie. It’s hard to say why, too – the show not only had the coolest house in TUF history, this huge log cabin up in a secluded area of Quebec, but it also had some solid fighters, decent personalities (the hyperactive Kajan Johnson; pretty-boy Elias Theodorou; Mr Serious Nordine Taleb; wild antagonist Tyler Manawaroa) and the fights were pretty good too. I think the problem was the general lack of drama – despite the personalities, outside of one clash between Taleb and Manawaroa the cast largely got along – and the fact that Canada vs. Australia isn’t really a natural rivalry like say, USA vs. Canada or Australia vs. UK. Add in that the Australian team for the most part were quite inexperienced and largely outmatched, and the intrigue just wasn’t there. Oh, and the coaches weren’t exactly massive rivals either and Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke, no offense, is a midcard fight at best. Still, the Finale card looked pretty good, with the finals and the afore-mentioned coaches fight being bookended by a top Featherweight fight and a really intriguing main event between Michael Bisping and Tim Kennedy.

UFC: Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale

Quebec City, Quebec

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian.

Featherweight Fight: Dustin Poirier vs Akira Corassani

After Poirier had shellacked TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao in December, the expectation was that he’d be matched with a top contender next, but surprisingly instead he was matched with Corassani – one of the semi-finalists from Brandao’s TUF season. Admittedly, Akira was on a three-fight win streak, but the reality was that on paper at least, he seemed out of his depth against Dustin the Diamond. Of course because it’s Akira though, we ended up with some bad blood coming in after a super-heated weigh-in staredown.

Fight begins and Poirier stalks forward as Akira tries to wing punches at him. Couple of shots land cleanly for the Swede early on as Poirier’s coming in a bit wildly. Crowd are mad into Poirier. Akira’s movement looks good early on. Good combo from Poirier pegs him back though and they end up clinched with Akira pushing Dustin into the fence. Poirier quickly breaks off and the exchange continues with both men landing combos. Jab connects hard for Poirier. Right hand to the body answers for Corassani. Again Poirier comes in a little wild and he walks right into a hard left hand that drops him for a split-second. Poirier looks a bit hurt and he eats another right hand as he comes up. Corassani is looking excellent. Tornado kick (!) glances for Corassani. Counter right hook connects for Poirier to slow the TUF veteran down. One-two connects for Akira and he nails Poirier with a heavy right hand counter too. You can really tell Corassani’s the more experienced striker here as he’s able to pick his shots as Poirier comes forward. Right hand lands for Poirier but he walks into another crisp counter from Akira. Nasty left hand from Poirier and they openly trade with both men landing BOMBS. Brief clinch is broken by a hard right from Akira. Poirier pegs him back with a flurry though. Akira decides to lean down for a possible takedown but Poirier stuffs it and begins to work for his trademark D’Arce, but as Akira defends Poirier turns it into a Peruvian necktie! Corassani looks in some trouble, but he manages to gut it out and works free, landing a hard knee as he stands. Wild trade ends the round. Awesome stuff. Razor-close round but I think Poirier just about took it despite taking some real shots from Akira. 10-9 Poirier.

Into the 2nd and Poirier comes out hard, stalking forward as Akira tries to circle out. Nice combo from Poirier pegs Akira back. Big uppercut has Corassani hurt and he backpedals, and Poirier SMELLS BLOOD and just comes in with a VIOLENT FLURRY that drops Akira to his knees, and the ref decides to call it there.

Hell of an opener. Akira did very well in the first round and was beating Poirier early on using his more technical striking, but the issues with him have always been that he gets drawn into brawls and doesn’t wear punishment well and that was proven once again here, as he decided to fight fire with fire and basically ended up being torched by Poirier. As for Poirier once again he delivered the excitement and he’s getting close to that Diego Sanchez, Cowboy Cerrone level now where you can guarantee a crazy fight every time he enters the cage. Just a tremendous fighter to watch.

TUF Nations: Welterweight Finals: Chad Laprise vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Australian team on TUF Nations weren’t the most experienced or stellar fighters and so it came as no surprise when both finals ended up being all-Canadian. This one was between the mainly boxing-oriented Laprise – who had pulled off the KO of the season by breaking Kajan Johnson’s jaw in the semis – against young grappler Aubin-Mercier, a French-Canadian who some were suggesting could become the next GSP. After seeing the rise and fall of Phillipe Nover I’m always wary of that tag, but I did think Aubin-Mercier’s grappling chops could take him past Laprise in this one.

Round One and the crowd seem firmly behind Aubin-Mercier which makes sense as he’s the French Canadian and they’re in Quebec. Pair of good leg kicks land for Laprise in the early exchanges. Short left hook connects too. Head kick glances for Aubin-Mercier. Think I’m just gonna call him Olivier at this point as it’s easier to type. Laprise is really working well with the leg kicks thus far. Takedown attempt from Olivier but Laprise stuffs it and they end up clinched. Good knees inside from Olivier but they break off. Looks like Laprise has a small cut under his left eye. Right uppercut glances for Olivier. Heavy overhand right from Laprise is partially blocked but still forces Olivier back. Nice combo from Laprise. Laprise is getting the better of the striking here. Takedown attempt from Olivier but Laprise stuffs it again. Beautiful inside leg kick from Laprise. Olivier clinches briefly but gets shrugged off. Body kick lands for Olivier. Laprise continues to circle and pop him from the outside though. You can really tell this guy is one of Shawn Tompkins’ old students. HARD body kick lands for Laprise as Aubin-Mercier lunges forward. Round ends with a pair of rights from Laprise. 10-9 Laprise in a pretty clear round.

Round Two and Laprise connects on a beautiful right hand counter in the opening seconds. Aubin-Mercier comes in swinging and lands a couple of shots, but Laprise catches him on the counter too. Takedown attempt from Olivier and it looks like a strong one as he drives Laprise into the fence. Laprise manages to stay vertical to begin, but Olivier eventually elevates him and drops him down to guard. Immediately Laprise works his way back up, but Olivier goes for a guillotine. He drops to his back, but Laprise pops his head free and stands. Big right to the body from Laprise as Olivier joins him on the feet. Head kick glances for Laprise. Olivier looks like he’s trying to turn the standing exchanges into a brawl, but Laprise is having none of that. Quick flurry glances for Laprise. Nice left hand connects for Olivier. Right to the body again from Laprise. Combo lands for him too as Olivier backs up. One minute to go and the pattern remains the same with Laprise catching Aubin-Mercier with the cleaner shots as he comes forward. Spinning backfist into a body kick from Laprise as he’s getting very comfortable. Round ends just after. 10-9 Laprise.

Round Three and Olivier opens with a superman punch. Takedown attempt follows and he drives Laprise into the fence. Good defense by Laprise though and he forces Olivier off. Hard left hook from Aubin-Mercier. Body kick lands too as he appears to be the fresher man. Laprise comes forward but walks into a double leg. Before Olivier can do anything though Laprise kicks him away and explodes to his feet. Olivier stays on him and drives him into the fence but Laprise separates again. Left hand connects for Aubin-Mercier. Olivier is actually landing some good strikes in this round as Laprise has clearly slowed down. Knee from Laprise causes him to slip to his back but he pops up immediately. Straight right pegs Olivier back a little but he closes in and lands a right of his own. Good combo from Laprise and he shrugs off a takedown again. Low kick is caught by Laprise and he trips Olivier down, but refuses to enter the guard and Yves Lavigne has to call Olivier up. Crisp counter combo from Laprise as Olivier clips him with an uppercut. One minute to go and Aubin-Mercier connects on the uppercut again. I think he needs a finish, though. Combos land for both men before Laprise lands with a spinning back kick to the body. Seconds remaining and Laprise ends the round with a heavy flurry, showing some real aggression. 10-10 round I think but it’s 30-28 for Laprise overall.

Judges score it 29-28 Aubin-Mercier (!), 29-28 Laprise and 30-27 for Chad Laprise to win the TUF Nations Welterweight crown with a split decision. Um, don’t know how the hell you’d score that fight for Aubin-Mercier but at least the right guy won. Solid but unspectacular fight and the story was basically that Aubin-Mercier couldn’t take Laprise down and was largely outgunned by a more technical striker on the feet. Word is that both guys are dropping to 155lbs for their next fight and I think they’ve both got solid potential to stick around in the UFC for some time.

TUF Nations: Middleweight Finals: Elias Theodorou vs Sheldon Westcott

The Middleweight finals actually interested me more than the Welterweight ones, mainly because Theodorou had been the most memorable character on the show – a pretty-boy former model with a cocky and funny personality, he was billed as a kickboxer coming in with a record of 8-0, but had actually used his grappling to beat his two Australian opponents (Zein Saliba and Tyler Manawaroa) en route to the finals. The one knock on him seemed to be a dull fighting style in his two fights on the show, but I’d heard that those were unusual for him, which made sense given he only had two decisions on his record prior. Opponent Westcott meanwhile had been the Phillipe Nover/Diego Brandao/Uriah Hall of the season, destroying Dan Kelly and Vik Grujic in impressive, violent fashion early in the first round. Despite this I was taking Elias, as I thought he’d be able to weather an early storm and then use his superior cardio to defeat his fellow Canadian.

Round One and Westcott looks to start fast and comes out swinging. Theodorou closes the distance and gets hold of him, but Westcott tries a lateral drop takedown that Elias has to block. They pop back up into the clinch and Westcott continues to play the aggressor, and he manages to get Elias down. He passes immediately and tries to take the back, getting one hook in as Theodorou gets to his knees. Westcott pulls him back and slaps both hooks in, but Elias seems very calm and rolls, getting to his feet with Westcott on his back. Good job from Elias to control the wrists as Westcott tries to slap the choke on. Theodorou works to shake him off, and manages to do a great job of dumping Westcott onto his back, where he rains down some right hands. Westcott reverses to his feet, but he looks tired halfway through the round and eats a nasty knee to the body from Elias. Plum clinch allows Theodorou to land a knee to the jaw, and he sprawls to avoid a takedown and lands another hard knee. Westcott tries to get him down again, but takes some elbows to the side of the head. Good defense from Theodorou and he uses a headlock to force Westcott onto his back. Big right hand from Elias and he stands over him and kicks the legs. Westcott looks gassed. Ref stands him up and Elias nails him with a body kick and begins to beat Sheldon to the punch in a striking exchange. Theodorou looks supremely confident now and he lands a trio of kicks. Seconds to go and Westcott keeps coming forward, but walks into some more kicks to end the round. 10-9 Theodorou as he weathered the early storm well and did a lot more damage as the round went on.

Round Two and Westcott charges out again, but Theodorou meets him with a body kick and a heavy right hand counter. Big combo from Elias forces Westcott back. Into the clinch and Theodorou quickly gets a rear waistlock and lands some uppercuts from behind. BIG SLAM from Theodorou and he looks to take the back, landing some heavy blows along the way. Sheldon pops back up but Theodorou stays on him and slams him right back down. Westcott works back up again but his gas tank is emptying fast now. He tries to get Elias down, but fails on that one and even when he manages it Elias immediately reverses and takes him down. Big punches land for Elias and Westcott’s in trouble. He lets Sheldon back to his feet and the difference in cardio here is incredible. Couple of jabs land for Theodorou and then he OPENS UP AND DESTROYS SHELDON WITH A FLURRY before SLAMMING HIM DOWN!~! Side mount for Theodorou and he continues to land, forcing Westcott to turtle up. Big shots land for Elias and he’s picking his shots smartly too. Into side mount for Theodorou and he drops some brutal elbows before taking full mount. Westcott tries to roll but Theodorou is in firm control and he lands some more bombs before giving the HI MOM to the camera. Ha, this guy RULES. Westcott manages to get to half-guard but Theodorou continues to open up and punish him and with about thirty seconds remaining the ref decides he’s taken enough abuse and stops it.

Post-fight Theodorou doesn’t even seem to be breathing heavily which is incredible. And not only that but he cuts a super-charismatic promo including CHECKING HIS HAIR IN THE CAMERA. I think I’ve got a new favourite fighter. Assuming this guy can keep winning – and with performances like this I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t, as he’s extremely well-rounded, has sick cardio and more importantly he’s incredibly smart, using his grappling to beat two brawlers on the show and knowing that if he weathered the storm here his cardio would come through – I think he could be a HUGE STAR in the near future. I’m talking the next big Canadian superstar now GSP is gone. Absolutely tremendous fight, too, non-stop action from start to finish.

Welterweight Fight: Sam Stout vs KJ Noons

This was a prelim from earlier in the night with Canadian kickboxer Stout meeting his USA-based mirror image (pretty much) in Noons. Fun fact – originally this was booked as a Lightweight fight but with both men being on the higher end of the weight scale for that division I guess they just decided they couldn’t be bothered to cut weight and agreed to a Welterweight fight instead. Fair play!

Round One and they exchange, basically going kick-for-kick in the early part of the round. Suddenly a CRUSHING RIGHT HOOK drops Stout HARD, and Noons follows it up and TURNS THE LIGHTS OUT! WOW.

Amazing knockout. Not only did it only take like literally thirty seconds, but Stout was well-known for his chin and I can’t even remember him being dropped, let alone taking a knockout like that. With that said, a good chin does tend to deteriorate and Stout’s been fighting at the top level now for eight years (!) so perhaps it might be a message for him to consider his future. Still, take nothing away from Noons, that was a massive and much-needed win for him. Brutal stuff.

Welterweight Fight: Patrick Cote vs Kyle Noke

While the coaches of TUF Nations hadn’t been quite as anonymous as Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin, for instance, their rivalry certainly wasn’t like Rashad vs. Rampage or Penn vs. Pulver, or even Pearson vs. Sotiropoulos for that matter! Still, it did at least sound like a decent, evenly matched fight. I was leaning towards Cote just because Noke had been on the shelf for a long time – well over a year in fact.

Round One and the crowd are AMPED for Cote. First blow lands for Noke but it’s a groin kick and time has to be called. Cote recovers immediately and they restart. Front kick to the chest from Noke. He throws out some more kicks, looking to keep Cote at a distance. Right hand glances for Cote and then he swings it over the top and causes Noke to stumble a little. Body kick is caught by Noke and he forces Cote into the fence. Knees from Noke and they break off. Noke is constantly using the front kick to the body to keep distance. Cote catches one though, drills him with a right and hits a single leg into half-guard. Noke tries to clamp down on a guillotine but Cote easily frees himself and winds up in full guard. Nice short, thudding elbows land for Cote and he avoids an armbar attempt too. Noke tries to stay active from his back and uses his legs to push Cote off, but the Canadian stays on him and drops a nasty right hand back into the guard. Seconds remaining and Noke tries a triangle, but Cote easily postures out. More elbows connect for Cote and you can visibly see Noke check that he isn’t cut. Round ends with Cote on top. Clear-cut round for Patrick Cote, 10-9.

Round Two and Noke is clearly trying to stay on the outside. Good body kick lands for the Aussie. He continues to throw kicks and manages to avoid a bulrush from Cote. Cote keeps coming forward, but walks right into a brutal counter knee from Noke that drops him face-first! Crowd immediately go SILENT in horror as Noke looks to finish him off, but Cote recovers quickly and dives for the takedown. Noke works to stuff it and nails him with another knee and then opens up with a combo, causing a wobbly Cote to cover up! They break off and Cote looks pretty much recovered. Vicious push kick to the leg from Noke buckles Cote for a second. The Aussie closes in and lands another combo to follow up. More kicks from Noke but Cote catches one and looks for the takedown. Great job from Cote to dump Noke onto his back in guard. He immediately goes to work with short elbows again and now the crowd are back into the fight, ha. Big elbows get through for Cote and Noke looks slightly hurt. He manages to scoot back to the fence though and works his way back to his knees. Cote tries to keep him down, landing a knee to the body, and now Noke looks hurt as he stands back up. Seconds to go and Noke uses some more kicks to keep the distance. Round ends on the feet. Close round but I’d go 10-9 Noke as the damage he did standing early on offset Cote’s late ground-and-pound I think.

Round Three and Cote pushes forward using punches to close the distance. He tries a single leg but Noke avoids it well. Cote’s using more angles now to avoid the kicks in order to close the distance. Right hand connects for Cote as Noke circles out. Heavy combo backs Noke into the fence and allows Cote to go for the takedown. Noke works to defend it, and manages to free himself. This could still go either way. Another kick is caught by Cote but he fails to capitalise. Left hand lands for Noke. He continues to use kicks to keep distance too. Low kick is caught by Cote and this time he turns it into a single leg and gets the Aussie down. This time he moves into half-guard for a second to land elbows before Noke hip escapes back to full guard. He’s still taking shots though as Cote’s ground-and-pound continues to look excellent. Looks like Noke’s busted open too. He tries to scoot back to the fence to get up, but Cote transitions into a rear waistlock as he stands. Seconds to go and Cote lands knees to the legs, and that’s it. 29-28 Cote I’d say.

Judges officially have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Patrick Cote. This was actually a very good fight with an excellent performance from Cote, and on a rewatch it surprised me as I seemed to remember it not being very good. Story was basically that Noke was attempting to keep the distance in order to strike at Cote from the outside, but the Canadian was consistently able to catch a couple of the Aussie’s kicks and take him down, and on the ground Noke had very little answer for the ground-and-pound game. Noke came closest to finishing for sure with the knee in the second round, but for the majority of the fight he was second-best. Very solid fight though if not earth-shattering.

Middleweight Fight: Michael Bisping vs Tim Kennedy

These guys had been sniping at one another for a long time now, going back to when Kennedy was in StrikeForce in fact. The rivalry was basically your standard mutual trash-talking one, with Bisping largely shrugging Kennedy’s insults off and claiming he was just looking to make a name for himself off a higher-ranked fighter. To me this one seemed to favour Bisping – despite him coming off a year-long layoff – as I didn’t think Kennedy could take him down and Bisping’s always dealt well with similar fighters to Kennedy (Alan Belcher, Dan Miller for instance).

Round One begins and Bisping opens with a blocked head kick. Kennedy sets up a single leg with a right hand and drives the Brit into the fence. Bisping works to stuff it, but Kennedy manages to switch to a double leg and dumps him to the ground. Immediately Bisping gets his back to the fence and tries to work back up, but Kennedy keeps him down nicely with a leg-sweep. Full guard for Bisping but Kennedy passes into half-guard. Solid right hand connects for Kennedy. He tries to work through to mount as the crowd boo loudly, evidently more behind Bisping than the American. Bisping just about avoids full mount and uses a butterfly guard to get up onto his knees. Kennedy stays on him though and gets him back down. Again Bisping scrambles and this time he gets to his feet, but gives his back in the process. Knees to the legs from Kennedy as he secures the rear waistlock. Takedown again from Kennedy and he lands in full mount, but a quick hip escape puts Bisping back in half-guard. Loud boos are now raining down from the fans. Couple of shots land for Kennedy as he tries to pass again. Beautiful mount from Kennedy and Bisping might be in trouble. He tries to buck Kennedy off but fails, and Kennedy postures up to deliver a couple of shots. Bisping gives his back and Kennedy gets both hooks in, looking for the choke. Good escape from Bisping though and he turns over, winding up on his back in half-guard again. Elbow connects for Kennedy. Round ends with Kennedy in half-guard. 10-9 Kennedy in a big round.

Round Two and Bisping pushes the action early on, landing with a jab and a pair of partially blocked head kicks. Nice stiff jab from the Brit beats Kennedy to the punch. Low kick from Kennedy. Nice combo lands for Bisping. Big right hand connects for Kennedy and snaps the Brit’s head back. Gotta credit Bisping for taking that one without being stunned, jesus. Front kick to the body from Bisping and he follows with another combo, backing Kennedy up a little more now. Takedown is stuffed by Bisping. Another good combo lands for the Brit and he appears to be taking over. Takedown attempt from Kennedy and he drives Bisping into the fence, but Bisping hops around on one leg and manages to sprawl out. Kennedy stays on him like glue and keeps trying to get him down, but this time Bisping blocks the trip attempt and escapes free. Jumping knee connects for Bisping but not cleanly, more to the chest area. Big right hand from Bisping comes over the top and lands. Bisping’s definitely winning this round. He continues to back Kennedy up and lands with another combo with just over a minute to go. Beautiful combo ends in a left hook for the Brit. Right hook lands over the top for Kennedy. Couple of jabs land for Bisping. Another combo follows. Looks like Kennedy’s right eye is marked up a little. Round ends on the feet and evens it up for Bisping in my eyes.

Round Three and Kennedy opens with a right hand to the body. Front kick follows. Jab glances for Bisping. Good right hand follows as the Brit pegs Kennedy back. Hard right from Kennedy sets up a takedown and he lands in half-guard. Bisping keeps trying to sit up to set up a reversal, but Kennedy’s base is too good and he keeps him firmly grounded. Couple of decent shots get through for Kennedy too. Crowd are disgusted with this despite Kennedy doing plenty of work. I get the feeling the Canadians just dislike Kennedy. He passes into side mount but Bisping quickly regains half-guard. Kimura attempt from Bisping but it’s going to be difficult to get that from half-guard and sure enough Kennedy muscles free of it. Really nasty shots to the body land for Kennedy. Slick pass from Kennedy puts him into side mount and then full mount. I guess I underestimated Kennedy’s ground game. Hard shots get through from Kennedy. Bisping manages to hip escape to like a half-butterfly guard, but Kennedy keeps him down and mounts again. Nobody’s ever dominated Bisping on the ground like this. Seconds to go though and Bisping pushes off the cage to escape, but only winds up underneath side mount. Round ends with Kennedy in firm control. 10-9 Kennedy.

Round Four and Bisping does more circling early on, clearly wary of the takedown at this point. Wild left hand misses for Kennedy. Couple of left hands glance for the Brit. Single leg attempt from Kennedy and he forces Bisping into the fence. Bisping manages to sprawl, but this time Kennedy transitions to a rear waistlock and knees the legs. Bisping spins into him, but can’t shake him off and Kennedy drops for a single leg. Good defense from Bisping this time allows him to escape free. Few jabs back Kennedy up into the cage, and he lands a left hook too. Kennedy looks like he might be slowing down as he’s breathing heavily. Good right hand from Kennedy but he eats a right uppercut on the counter from the Brit. Right hook connects for Kennedy and Bisping has to get on his bike. Takedown attempt follows but Bisping blocks it and escapes the clinch. Left lands for Bisping and he pegs Kennedy back and nails him with a combo. Right hand answers for Kennedy. Bisping looks a bit wobbled and Kennedy comes forward with a glancing uppercut. Clinch is shrugged off by Bisping but he touches his eye which is a bit worrying as it was the right eye that had the torn retina. Both men land combos and Kennedy clocks him with a hard right again. Seconds to go and Kennedy catches the Brit with a left hook. Counter right from Bisping ends the round. Razor close round but even though Bisping stopped the takedown I think Kennedy just about edged the striking. 10-9 Kennedy leaving Bisping needing a finish I think.

Round Five and Bisping counters a front kick with a hard right hand in the early exchange. Kennedy’s looking to bully Bisping back though using the threat of the takedown. Combo glances for the Brit. Right hand sets up a clinch for Kennedy and this time he dumps Bisping to the ground with a bodylock. Bisping immediately pops up, but Kennedy trips him right back down into half-guard. Full mount follows for a second but Bisping tries to reverse and manages to get half-guard back. Funny moment as someone from the outside yells “SHUT UP” in a totally gruff voice. Crowd are again furious with Kennedy’s ground domination. This time referee Yves Lavigne stands them up and outright says “I need more than that, Mr Kennedy” like he’s a sleazy French Bond villain. Again Bisping touches his eye after an exchange. Kennedy’s busted open quite badly actually. Combination lands for Bisping. Head kick from the Brit too as he backs Kennedy up. He can’t seem to land the big shot though and Kennedy pegs him back again with a couple of jabs. Hard right from Kennedy. Right hands land for both men. Seconds to go and Bisping is desperately trying to make something happen. Good left hand connects for him in an exchange but it’s looking like too little, too late. Round ends with Bisping landing some more shots. I’ve got that one 10-9 Kennedy giving him a 49-46 win in a mild upset.

Judges have it 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 for Tim Kennedy. Crowd are less than enthused, I guess they don’t appreciate a US soldier winning on Canadian soil. Post-fight both men show tons of respect to one another with Kennedy saying Bisping took his best shots and vice versa, and Bisping giving Kennedy credit for the fight. Kennedy seems pissed off that he couldn’t get a finish but I mean, it’s not like many guys beat Bisping, let alone finish him, so I can’t fault that. Basically I think everyone – myself included – underestimated Kennedy’s wrestling and top control, and after he managed to control Bisping on the ground in the first round, the Brit never really seemed fully comfortable. He did have a very good second round but once Kennedy found his groove and started to use the threat of the takedown to set up his strikes and vice versa, it was clearly his fight. Part of me does suspect Bisping lost a lot when he was on the shelf with that really serious eye injury, but it’d be unfair to claim anything but him losing to a better fighter in this one. I think this signals the end for Bisping as a title contender now unfortunately, and we’ll probably see him in Rich Franklin-type b-show main events in the future, ala his next one with Cung Le. It’s a pity in a way because I think an Anderson Silva fight in the UK at some point (probably like 2010-11 when Bisping seemed at his peak) would’ve drawn huge, but I guess he couldn’t quite get over that last hump. As for this fight, it wasn’t exactly fireworks but I enjoyed it as a technical fight as you could really see both guys trying to work out exactly how to combat the other’s style. Excellent main event.

-Show abruptly ends there as it’s time for TUF 19.

Final Thoughts….

On a rewatch this was actually a very good show. Laprise/Aubin-Mercier wasn’t all that but outside of that one, everything else ranged from pretty good (Bisping/Kennedy, Cote/Noke) to pretty damn awesome (Theodorou/Westcott, Poirier/Corassani). Throw in a truly brutal knockout in Noons/Stout and it’s an easy recommendation for this one if you haven’t seen it. Hopefully things pan out now and Theodorou becomes a big star and makes me look smart when people look back at this!

Best Fight: Theodorou vs. Westcott
Worst Fight: Laprise vs. Aubin-Mercier

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: