MMA Review: #472: UFC Fight Night 48

-This was the UFC’s second visit to Macao in 2014 following the TUF China Finale in March, and it must be said that this was a much better card – not only did it have a fun-sounding main event between bitter rivals Michael Bisping and Cung Le (you could say bitter rivals about practically any Bisping fight to be fair!) but it also had a hugely important showdown for the 170lbs division in Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tyron Woodley.

UFC Fight Night 48

08/23/14
Macao, China

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Kenny Florian.

Ultimate Fighter China: Featherweight Finals: Ning Guangyou vs Yang Jianping

This one should’ve been on the TUF China Finale (duh) but got scrapped when one of the guys got injured. Can’t say I was overly bothered if I’m honest. People who had watched the TUF series apparently had Jianping down as the big favourite so there you go. Both guys look comically stacked, like they’ve swallowed all the steroids in Macao or something, seriously. Not actually accusing them of being juiced up but holy shit are they huge for 145lbs.

Round One and a left and a takedown attempt open for Guangyou. Reversal from Jianping puts him on top, but Guangyou immediately reverses position, comes up to his feet and hits a slick lateral drop to gain top position in side mount. Jianping quickly gets back to half-guard and then full guard. Little action follows as Guangyou controls him from the top, avoiding being kicked off at one point. Reversal from Jianping allows him to his feet, but Guangyou continues to push forward and pressure him. Right hand glances for Jianping. Crowd begin to boo as they’re doing nothing but circling now. Takedown from Jianping but Guangyou pops right back up. More circling follows before Guangyou clinches and lands some knees to the body. They break off and it’s back to circling of course. Crowd are just furious as both men glance on shots. Decent knee connects for Guangyou but he doesn’t really follow it up. Round ends on the feet. Pretty bad stuff; 10-9 Guangyou.

Round Two and Jianping opens with a leg kick. Guangyou comes back with one of his own as they exchange low kicks while circling around and missing punches. Takedown from Guangyou and he lands in the full guard. Pass to half-guard follows before Jianping hits an elevator sweep. Guangyou grabs onto a guillotine in the scramble though and pulls guard, but Jianping manages to work his head free and they come back to their feet. Pair of inside leg kicks land for Jianping. Good left to the body from Guangyou but he can’t get a clinch off it. Takedown attempt is blocked by Guangyou. Another inside leg kick from Jianping. This is a horrible fight. Striking trade continues with very little action. Groin shot connects for Jianping and Steve Perceval has to call time. Seems to be a major language issue as the Aussie Perceval asks Guangyou if he’s okay to continue but they get there eventually and restart. Goldie and Ken-Flo are cracking up like mad at this. Crowd continue to boo the non-action as the round peters out on the feet. 10-9 Guangyou.

Round Three and we begin with – what else? – aimless circling with a couple of leg kicks thrown in. Crowd are all over these guys now. Couple of decent kicks do land for Jianping but man this is a crap fight. I wonder if these guys watched Severn vs. Shamrock or something right before they came out? Referee Perceval is comically telling them to work even though he should’ve realized earlier they can’t understand a word he’s saying, ha. Another good leg kick lands for Jianping. Couple of kicks answer for Guangyou. Boos are just deafening now. Like Koscheck in Montreal levels almost. Guangyou tries to do a Diaz and taunts Jianping in reaction but it doesn’t really help. One minute to go. Nothing really happens and that’s that. 10-9 Jianping but 29-28 Guangyou overall in my book.

Judges call it 29-28 all round for Ning Guangyou. Worst televised fight of 2014 in my opinion. I mean, the first TUF China final featured a pair of guys who didn’t quite look up to the UFC level but at least they put on a fun fight. This was just dire from start to finish. Let us never speak about it again. Until the Final Thoughts bit that is.

Lightweight Fight: Zhang Lipeng vs Brendan O’Reilly

Lipeng had won the TUF China Lightweight tournament in March but hadn’t exactly looked stellar in doing so, and it looked like a tricky job to match him with someone beatable on the UFC roster in order to keep him afloat for the Chinese crowd. O’Reilly – a veteran of the TUF Nations series from Team Australia – seemed like a decent opponent as he hadn’t looked stellar on the show, but given I don’t trust Chinese fighters at all yet I still figured the Aussie would pick up the win.

Classic entrance for O’Reilly – can’t go wrong with Bon Jovi, dude, especially Blaze Of Glory.

Round One and they circle with O’Reilly opening with a few jabs. Leg kick connects for Lipeng. Another jab lands for O’Reilly and then he shoots, but Lipeng defends the takedown. The Aussie forces him into the fence, still working for a takedown, and he throws some solid knees inside the clinch for good measure. Trip takedown from O’Reilly but he messes up big time and Lipeng winds up on top in half-guard. O’Reilly quickly moves back to full guard but the Chinese fighter passes right back to half-guard. Sweep attempt from O’Reilly but he can’t get Lipeng off him. Short hammer fists land for Lipeng as there’s a small but loud Australian contingent in the crowd doing the Aussie Aussie Aussie! chants. Reversal from O’Reilly and he winds up on top in guard and begins to chop away with punches of his own. Lipeng kicks him away, but O’Reilly dives back onto him with a heavy right hand. More short ground-and-pound follows for the Aussie and he ends the round on top. Close round but I’d go 10-9 O’Reilly.

Round Two and they exchange some strikes in the opening moments with neither man really gaining an advantage. Good combo from O’Reilly sets up a takedown attempt, but Lipeng defends nicely and they end up clinched on the fence. They exchange knees to the body and it looks like Lipeng’s just about getting the better of the deal. He manages to move his way onto the back and puts one hook in from a standing position. The Aussie turns back into him though and it’s back to the regular clinch. Takedown from Lipeng and he finds himself in the guard of O’Reilly. The Aussie tries to roll his way free but gives his back and this time Lipeng slaps in both hooks. Body triangle for Lipeng now and he’s working for the choke. One minute to go and Lipeng lands some punches to try to soften him up, Looks like the choke might be sunk but somehow O’Reilly guts it out. He’s in deep trouble here though. Seconds to go and he manages to defend until the round ends, however. 10-9 Lipeng.

Round Three and they exchange some jabs with Lipeng landing on a couple of decent leg kicks too. Neither guy looks like the best striker if I’m honest. Decent right hand lands for O’Reilly and then he follows with a takedown attempt, but Lipeng gets his back to the cage to defend it. Looks like O’Reilly’s mouth is busted open quite badly as there’s a lot of blood coming from there. Beautiful outside trip from Lipeng and he gets O’Reilly’s back again. Body triangle is sunk once more and this time Lipeng lands some double hammer fists from back mount to really pop the crowd. Rear naked choke attempt follows and O’Reilly looks in trouble as Lipeng tries to use the horrible amounts of blood to slip his arm under the chin. Looks like there’s a HOLE in O’Reilly’s lip, wow. He manages to avoid the choke though, but he’s still being totally dominated here. One minute to go and Lipeng continues to land shots from back control. Looks like O’Reilly’s going to survive to go the distance. Sure enough the fight ends with Lipeng in firm back control. 10-8 Lipeng for a 29-27 I’d say.

Official scores are 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Zhang Lipeng. He did actually look massively improved since that TUF China Finale actually and on the ground in particular he showed excellent control and decent takedowns too. I’m still not too sure if he belongs in the UFC – I mean, no offense to O’Reilly but he wasn’t an elite-level opponent – but as long as they’re going to keep him on these Asian Fight Pass cards I don’t see the problem in building him slowly. This fight wasn’t bad I guess – practically Griffin vs. Bonnar compared to that awful opener, ha.

Welterweight Fight: Tyron Woodley vs Dong Hyun Kim

Well, after his two exciting wins over Erick Silva and John Hathaway, Kim had been calling for a step up in competition and this was exactly what he was after. Originally he was set to face Hector Lombard here but when the Cuban got injured, Woodley stepped in looking to erase the memories of his poor June showing against Rory MacDonald. Tough one to call but I’m a huge Woodley fan and was siding with him.

Fight begins and Kim comes charging right out into the clinch and Woodley counters with a hard right hand. Woodley forces the Korean into the fence and they muscle for position. Good job by Woodley to not allow Kim to step to the side in order to go for one of his trademark throws. They break and Kim goes for his spinning back elbow…but spins right into a CRUSHING RIGHT HOOK from Woodley that lands on the temple! Down goes Kim and Woodley follows it up and DESTROYS HIM WITH A BARRAGE. Jesus Christ.

Woodley needed an impressive performance here after the MacDonald debacle and man did he deliver. That was one of the most brutal knockouts of 2014. Replay shows the right hook landed right on the side of the head and destroyed Kim’s equilibrium, and once he was down Woodley just didn’t mess around at all. For my money when he’s on he’s the scariest guy in the whole division as he just has insane power to go with that sick wrestling. I know he’s fighting Kelvin Gastelum next and it looks like Johny Hendricks is getting a rematch for the title, but damnit Woodley vs. Hendricks is the fight I want at 170lbs. This was an AWESOME knockout.

Middleweight Fight: Michael Bisping vs Cung Le

Not sure where the rivalry here originated from but coming in this definitely seemed like quite the heated match. Interesting one to predict too as Le was coming off a massive layoff (November 2012 being his last outing) but he had KOd Rich Franklin in that fight, while Bisping had looked definitely past his prime in an unsuccessful fight with Tim Kennedy in April. Despite this – and despite Le showing off a new physique that Bisping was claiming was steroid-enhanced – I was still taking the Count to win as he’s generally consistent while I just couldn’t trust a dude who’s past 40 and fights so sporadically.

First round and they exchange strikes from distance to begin with both guys glancing on early shots. Good inside leg kick lands for Bisping as does a lunging left hook. Body kick connects for Le. He follows with a right to the body that lands flush but Bisping seems fine. Le’s lunging in a bit which looks a little worrying for him. Spinning back kick lands for Bisping surprisingly enough. Stinging right hand lands for the Brit. Couple of kicks are blocked by Bisping’s arms. Bisping’s beginning to time the counter right hand. Good body shot from Le again. Couple of combos land for Bisping but Le comes in with another good shot to the body. Another combo from Bisping and a sharp counter right follows. Low blow lands for Le and the ref has to call time to let him recover. They restart quickly and a spin kick misses for Le. High kick glances for Bisping. Counter right lands again as Le throws a right kick. Good right hook from Le backs Bisping up a bit, but the Brit comes back with a combo. Round ends just after. Energetic round; I’d lean 10-9 Bisping in a close one.

Second round and Bisping lands a combo right away. Side kick glances for Le. Another couple of combos connect for Bisping but Le comes back with a body kick and a leg kick. Body kick answers for Bisping and he begins to open up with a bit of a flurry as Le tries to claim an eye poke. Ref’s having none of that and Bisping opens up again with a right hand and now he’s really pushing forward. Big combo from Bisping starts with a right to the body and ends with a left head kick. Couple of knees follow and Cung looks busted up. Spinning back kick from Bisping and suddenly he looks completely in control. Le is a bloody mess as Bisping opens up on him with another combo. Hard counter right from Bisping sets up another combo and Le’s breathing heavily. Ref calls time to get Le’s eye checked over, but he says he can see so they let it continue. Wheel kick misses for Le and Bisping comes back with a combo into a spinning back kick. Bisping looks awesome here. Right hook connects for Le though to slow him down a bit. Big body kick from Cung but Bisping seems unfazed. Right lands for Bisping but Le comes back with a blatant side kick to the groin. Ugh. Ref calls time and this time Bisping has to take a while to recover. Holy shit Le’s face is busted up. Massive cuts over both eyes. They restart and Le misses with some flashy techniques including a hook kick. Good body kick from Le. One minute to go and Bisping forces Cung back with a straight right. Big crowd chant for Cung Le but Bisping lands on him with a one-two. Round ends with Bisping on the offensive again. 10-9 Bisping.

Third round and Bisping comes out aggressively again, landing with a right hand and countering a body kick attempt with a good left head kick. Really nice right hook lands for Le and wobbles Bisping’s legs, but he quickly recovers only to take a spinning back kick. Combo answers back for the Brit. Couple more kicks land for Le as he seems to be sneaking back into this fight surprisingly enough. Hard body kick lands for the Brit. Left hook follows. Wheel kick glances for Le. Combo from Bisping backs him up into the fence though. Body kick from Le but Bisping lands with a counter right and follows it with a nice combo. Bisping’s beginning to take over with his combinations again now. Good left hook leads to another combo for the Count. Beautiful combo lands for Bisping. Le comes back with another kick to the body. They trade a couple more kicks before Bisping works some nice angles to land another combo. Seconds to go and a Bisping flurry has Le covering up along the fence. He fires back with a decent right hand but it doesn’t seem to slow Bisping down. Round ends with another Bisping combo. 10-9 Bisping.

Fourth round and Bisping stays on the outside in the opening seconds before countering a body kick with a right hand and a left kick of his own. Straight right connects and knocks Cung back. His face is a real mess. Bisping lands with another hard combo. He’s really landing cleanly on Cung now. Big flurry has Le covering up badly and this time Bisping pours it on by going to the body as well before landing a BIG KNEE that drops him. Le looks done and sure enough Bisping seals the deal with some shots on the ground.

Tremendous performance from Michael Bisping – sure, Le is way past his prime and hadn’t fought in forever, but he’s still a very good striker and Bisping thoroughly dominated him on the feet, landing tons of clean combos once he found his range and busting him up something terrible. Really good way for Bisping to rebound after a pretty weak showing for him in April against Tim Kennedy. As for Le, he tested positive for HGH after this fight (forget all the controversy, dude was blatantly on something, sorry) and he’s now involved in this ludicrous lawsuit against the UFC, so I doubt we ever see him again in the Octagon. And you know what? I don’t care. Never liked the guy. Post-fight Bisping calls out “this idiot called Luke Rockhold” and of course that’s another show. Then Le puts over Bisping and good lord his face is a mess. Still looks roided to the gills though.

-Show ends with a plug for UFN 49 – happening a few hours after this show because why not?

Final Thoughts….

Bisping vs. Le was a lot of fun and the Woodley knockout was pretty awesome, but with a really pedestrian Lipeng/O’Reilly fight and the worst televised fight all year in Guangyou/Jianping to open proceedings I can’t really recommend this show highly. Check out the Woodley knockout on a highlight reel or something and find the Bisping fight if you’re a big fan but if not give it a miss.

Best Fight: Bisping vs. Le
Worst Fight: Guangyou vs. Jianping

Overall Rating: *3/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com