MMA Review: #514: UFC Fight Night 72

-A UFC card in Scotland had apparently been in the works for years – I remember hearing about it in like 2011 – but I guess it finally made sense this year with the international expansion of the promotion and the advent of Fight Pass making these sort of shows easier in terms of the time difference not mattering so much. Initial rumors had Joanne Calderwood main eventing with a Strawweight title shot, but her loss to Maryna Moroz put paid to that and so unsurprisingly Zuffa turned to old reliable, Michael Bisping, and matched him with the resurgent Brazilian Thales Leites in what sounded like an intriguing fight.

UFC Fight Night 72

07/18/15
Glasgow, Scotland

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Brian Stann, strangely enough for a Euro show as I was expecting Gooden and Hardy.

Lightweight Fight: Stevie Ray vs Leonardo Mafra

The third Scot to ever fight in the UFC, Ray had debuted in April on late notice but had impressed in a win over Marcin Bandel, while Mafra – one of the TUF Brazil originals – had dropped to 155lbs for the first time in March to pick up a win over Cain Carrizosa. I was picking Ray here but it was a bit of a questionable pick as Mafra was the larger man and arguably the best fighter Ray had ever faced, too.

Round One begins and the crowd are INSANELY LOUD. Head kick from Ray garners a monstrous pop but doesn’t land cleanly. Slip from Ray sends him down for a second but he pops right back up. Good one-two lands for the Scot. Jab and a couple of low kicks answer for Mafra. Mafra clinches briefly and lands with an uppercut before Ray separates. Long left hand lands for Ray. Few more kicks glance for Mafra before a spin kick misses for Ray. Good counter right from Ray but he takes two leg kicks in the process. They trade some more kicks before Mafra walks forward right into a NASTY COUNTER RIGHT that stiffens him up! He stumbles and Ray opens up with a BIG COMBO that has him in all sorts of trouble! The Brazilian tries to swing back WILDLY but Ray does a tremendous job of staying in the pocket, avoiding the bombs and continues to tag Mafra with punches. Mafra looks out on his feet but still swings back, until a left to the temple gets the dreaded DELAYED REACTION and he goes tumbling down, and from there Ray pounces on him and finishes him off. Cue MADNESS from the crowd, duh.

Ray looked great there. Stayed patient despite the rabid crowd, landed a clean shot and then did a great job of staying in the pocket to land clean shots while avoiding Mafra’s wild counters, where a lot of fighters might’ve swarmed him in sloppy fashion and been clipped in the process. Red-hot opener and an excellent win for Stevie Ray who seems like a fun fighter to watch.

Welterweight Fight: Leon Edwards vs Pawel Pawlak

Both of these fighters were coming off wins on April’s Krakow card – Edwards with a sick eight-second knockout of tough veteran Seth Baczynski, Pawlak with a come-from-behind decision win over TUF Nations finalist Sheldon Westcott. Despite not knowing all that much about either man I took the Brit Edwards to win, as I hadn’t been that impressed with Pawlak in the Westcott fight and he was losing quite badly until Westcott gassed as he seems to do.

First round begins and Edwards presses forward and lands with a head kick after about twenty seconds. Pawlak manages to take it though and already the fight’s way longer than Edwards’ last one. He tags Pawlak with a combo but the Pole fires back with a right hook that lands decently. Edwards is really pressing forward here though. Pair of left hands stun Pawlak and force him to clinch. Trip attempt from Edwards is blocked and they muscle for position along the fence. Good knee inside for Edwards. They exchange some more knees before Edwards breaks with a left hook. Big combo misses for Edwards and Pawlak clinches again. Edwards might have the most polite corner I’ve ever heard as you can hear them yelling “please” and “thank you” along with their instructions! Really good control in the clinch from the Brit but not much action here overall. Decent shots land for Edwards at one point but the ref calls a clean break. Takedown attempt by Pawlak but Edwards sprawls to avoid. Body kick lands for the Pole but he gets backed up again. Good left hook from Edwards. Body kick backs Pawlak up. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Edwards in somewhat of a dull round.

Second round and both men land in a brief exchange to open the round. Edwards seems like the faster striker though and he tags Pawlak with a head kick, but the Pole evidently has a good chin as he comes back swinging and forces the Brit to retreat. Edwards begins to back him up again, and they exchange some more with Edwards catching the better shots. Couple of front kicks to the body land for Edwards. Wheel kick glances for Edwards and leads to a hard left hand. Wild swings miss for Pawlak as again Edwards demonstrates his speed. The Pole does land with a nasty body kick though. Combo from Edwards leads to the clinch and they jockey for position on the fence. Action slows down a bit as Edwards controls the clinch before Leon Roberts calls a clean break. Huge haymaker misses for Pawlak and Edwards counters with a left. Takedown attempt from the Pole is also blocked and he ends up pulling guard. Edwards right away passes into half-guard. Pawlak manages to move back to full guard, but he takes a couple of elbows. Round ends with Edwards on top. 10-9 Edwards again putting him two rounds up for me.

Third round and both men miss with some early strikes and you can sort-of see the desperation for Pawlak now as he’s really winging haymakers in there. Front kick from Edwards connects with the groin though and Leon Roberts calls time. They restart pretty quickly and Pawlak slips on a kick, but pops back up right away. They circle and suddenly Edwards MURDERS HIM WITH A LEFT HEAD KICK! Pawlak looks down and out, and Edwards pounces, but somehow the ref lets it go and the Pole manages to survive. Edwards drops into side mount but incredibly Pawlak moves himself into butterfly guard and actually manages to slow Edwards down. This guy has a ludicrous chin as I thought he was done for sure there. Edwards works to pass the guard and then decides to stand, and Pawlak is forced up with him. He still looks a bit wobbly, but throws a flying knee that Edwards just about avoids. Left hand connects for Edwards. Spinning backfist misses for Pawlak but it does lead to a body kick and the clinch. Edwards exits with an elbow, and now both guys are swinging pretty heavily. Big body kick from Pawlak. Can’t believe he’s recovered fully. They clinch again with just over a minute to go and jockey for position again, and Edwards defends a trip to end the fight. 10-8 Edwards for the near finish so I’d go 30-26 for him.

Judges all have it 30-27 for Leon Edwards. Story of the fight was basically that Pawlak wasn’t fast enough to deal with the striking of Edwards, but he was also unable to really establish an advantage in the grappling department either so he was always onto a loser. How he survived that head kick in the third round though I don’t know – guy has a hell of a chin, that’s for sure. Fight wasn’t brilliant although it did have its high spots, namely that kick of course! Edwards is a lot of fun to watch even if I think he’ll falter a bit when he starts to climb the ladder. Next for him is uber-prospect Kamaru Usman in fact and I think he’s onto a loser there unfortunately for him.

Women’s Strawweight Fight: Joanne Calderwood vs Cortney Casey

Originally this would’ve seen Scotland’s own Calderwood facing fellow TUF 20 castmate Bec Rawlings, but the Aussie got injured in training and so Casey stepped in on just eight days notice. With the late notice and the general lack of experience for Casey – she’d only had five professional fights in her career – Calderwood was the obvious pick, although she’d been in a similar situation in her previous fight and lost to the largely unknown Maryna Moroz.

Massive crowd reaction for Calderwood, probably even bigger than the one for Stevie Ray even, which I guess makes sense as JoJo is probably the most well-known Scottish fighter right now.

Round One and JoJo presses forward and throws out some kicks. They trade off right away and Casey lands a combination that has Calderwood stunned! BIG SHOTS land for Casey and JoJo is all over the place! She comes back with a body kick, but Casey continues to swarm on her until the Scot manages to clinch to slow her down. Incredible start for the newcomer. Body shots land for Calderwood and she tries to work on a single leg before Casey decides to pull guard outright. Armbar attempt is avoided by Calderwood and she settles into the guard but doesn’t really use much ground-and-pound. Instead she manages to roll Casey over onto all fours, but the newcomer manages to roll back to guard only to take a couple of shots. Casey returns the favour from the bottom though. Looks like Casey’s trying to set up an armbar, but she eats a big elbow in the process. Triangle attempt from Casey is avoided but she lands an upkick. Heel hook attempt follows and they go into the 50/50 position with Calderwood landing a couple of decent punches from there for good measure. One minute to go and JoJo manages to manoeuvre herself into top position again, but she takes a bunch of elbows from the bottom that lead to a pretty wild exchange from the guard. Casey is crazy aggressive. Round ends with JoJo on top but I think I’d give it to Casey for that red-hot start and her ground strikes too.

Round Two and Calderwood closes the distance and clinches, where she lands with a solid knee to the body. Plum clinch from JoJo follows and she lands a couple more knees and a pair of really sharp elbows to the head. Casey might’ve gotten hurt there. JoJo walks her down again with a flurry of punches and Casey is in trouble. Calderwood looks for the takedown, landing a couple of perfectly-placed knees to the head in the process as Casey brings her hand off the floor. Takedown follows and JoJo is in top position in butterfly guard. Casey manages to get to full guard after eating an elbow. Few moments later JoJo decides to stand, forcing Casey up with her. Nice front kick from Calderwood sets up a left hook, but Casey fires back with a hard right. They exchange again with Calderwood landing a nasty straight right, and from there she hits a trip from the clinch and works into half-guard, landing some elbows in the process. Big crowd chant for JoJo as she avoids a potential armbar and seems to be kneeling on Casey’s face. More good ground-and-pound from Calderwood before she decides to stand again. Spin kick to the body sets up a short elbow into the clinch, and from there JoJo works some knees to the body. Casey might be gassed now. She does answer with a hard right hook though. Front kick sets up a big right for Calderwood and Casey looks hurt again, but survives the round. 10-9 Calderwood in a tremendous round.

Round Three and they trade some kicks with Calderwood landing a front kick to the face. Brief clinch is quickly broken and JoJo catches Casey with a body kick. Wild trade follows and Calderwood tags her with a right hand, then walks her down with some more shots including a glancing spinning elbow. This is getting pretty wild now as Casey looks tired but keeps on swinging. Spin kick to the body from Calderwood hurts Casey and she goes down, and JoJo quickly pounces and drops a ton of hammer fists, looking for the finish. Casey manages to survive by getting guard, but Calderwood decides to bring the fight back up. Stiff left hand from Calderwood. Casey is exhausted and she’s getting picked apart now. More shots to the body from JoJo and she seems to be picking her shots. Clinch and Calderwood throws Casey to the ground easily and slices through the guard. Side mount for JoJo and then she decides to stand again. Two minutes to go and a pair of leg kicks lead to the plum clinch for Calderwood, where she lands a knee and throws Casey down before waving her up Cro Cop style. Casey is tough as nails as she keeps on swinging, but she gets caught in the plum again and eats some more elbows and a knee. Casey decides to jump to guard again but she’s totally exhausted. Elbows and punches land for JoJo before she stands up, and Casey decides to go for a desperation leglock. Calderwood easily avoids it and ends the round on top with some more punches and hammer fists as Casey tries to fire back. 10-9 Calderwood for a 29-28 I’d call it.

Official scores are 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Joanne Calderwood. Roof sounds like it’s about to blow off the arena when Bruce Buffer announces that. Fight was absolutely fantastic with action from start to finish, as the late replacement Casey obviously knew she had nothing to lose and came in with incredible aggression, and she almost had Calderwood out of there early but JoJo did well to weather the storm and then really took over once Casey gassed, making the later part of the fight pretty one-sided. I suspect the holes in JoJo’s game – namely her penchant for getting hit and her ground game – will keep her from getting to the very top of the division, but I fully expect her to have a very successful UFC career if she can keep putting on fights like this. Likewise for Casey really who should perform much better with a full training camp.

Lightweight Fight: Joseph Duffy vs Ivan Jorge

Irishman Duffy – better known for being the last guy to beat Conor McGregor – had looked fantastic in his UFC debut, shredding Jake Lindsey up on the feet, and he was faced with a step up here in the form of ‘Batman’ Jorge, who was coming off a win over Josh Shockley and had a gaudy 26-4 record. Despite Jorge’s impressive ledger I thought Duffy had enough to beat him due to his more dynamic finishing skills as compared to Jorge’s more grinding style.

Jorge’s entrance literally has me in stitches as he’s actually using the old Batman TV theme from the fucking Adam West days, holy shit. THAT’s how Batman is supposed to be, not this dark stuff we have today damnit. Just wish Jorge had worn the mask!

Round One and Duffy pushes forward, but eats a glancing right from Jorge that catches him off balance. He comes back in with some punches and a head kick that narrowly misses. One-two wobbles Jorge and he looks stiff on his feet at the minute. Takedown is shrugged off by Duffy. They clinch up and Jorge shoves Duffy into the fence, but Irish Joe separates and then tags the Brazilian with a body kick and a follow-up combo. Jorge comes in swinging to set up a takedown attempt, but he can’t get Duffy down. Good knee from the clinch from Jorge, but Duffy separates with some punches. Knee to the body lands for Duffy and he just misses with a head kick. Combo answers for Jorge. Duffy fires back with an uppercut, but Jorge clinches and takes him down…..only to land right in a triangle choke! Duffy immediately spins onto his back and tightens it up, and from there Jorge is forced to tap out.

Hell of a showing from Joe Duffy. Not only did he get the better of the stand-up, but he got that triangle on pretty quickly against a guy who’s a high-level BJJ black belt and has a ton of submission wins on his record. Two UFC wins for Irish Joe then – one by strikes and one by submission, impressive stuff. I look forward to seeing him finally hook it up with Dustin Poirier in January as it’s a good fight for both men at this stage in their careers.

Lightweight Fight: Ross Pearson vs Evan Dunham

This was one of those fights where it felt almost surprising, given how long both have been around, that these two hadn’t actually fought before. Both men were coming off wins – Pearson over Sam Stout and Dunham over Rodrigo Damm – but if I’m honest it did feel like both were probably just past their primes. My pick was Pearson due to his cleaner striking style, but it was a close one to call. It’s still hard to believe that Dunham didn’t really make it all the way to the top given how good he looked in 2010.

First round begins and Pearson stalks forward and blocks a head kick. Another one follows that Ross blocks again. Pearson continues to stalk him and lands with a lunging right hand that snaps Dunham’s head back. Dunham replies with a great takedown and then keeps hold of Pearson as he pops back up, taking the back with some knees to the legs. Big suplex follows and Dunham slaps both hooks in and takes full back control! Body triangle now for Dunham and Ross is in trouble. Tremendous control from Dunham and he peppers Pearson with punches. No choke attempt from Dunham yet but the clock is ticking away on the round for Pearson. Dunham goes into a really SICK armbar/triangle combo and absolutely TORQUES the arm, but somehow Pearson shows the heart of a lion and fights through it, escaping to his feet! Crowd go apeshit for that one and rightly so. Seconds to go and Ross pushes forward, landing a right hand, and he ends the round on a missed flying knee and a hard right hook. 10-9 round for Dunham. No idea how Ross got out of that armbar.

Second round and Pearson pushes forward from the off, landing a left to the body, but Dunham hits a slick level change and dumps Pearson to the ground again. Never seen Dunham’s takedowns look this good before. He ends up in half-guard and works to pass that, but Ross gets full guard back and lands some elbows from the bottom. Dunham replies with some elbows of his own, then takes the back in a scramble. Pearson’s on his knees but Dunham has a rear waistlock and he’s landing knees to the body. Pearson manages to avoid a suplex, but he can’t shake Dunham off him. Dunham works both hooks inside and Pearson’s in trouble again. He shakes the hooks off and stands, but Dunham drags him back down and works a hook back in. Body triangle follows. Pearson is getting owned on the ground here. Good punches land for Dunham and with less than a minute to go it’s looking like another round in the books for him. Looks like Dunham’s trying to transition into the armbar again and indeed, he goes for it, but the buzzer sounds before he can extend the arm. 10-9 Dunham however and Pearson now needs a finish to win.

Third round and Pearson pushes forward and walks through a head kick attempt. Dunham proves to be a tricky target though, circling away smartly although he does take a body shot. Takedown attempt from Dunham is stuffed this time and Pearson cracks him with a body kick. Another attempt is stuffed by the Brit. Driving takedown attempt from Dunham and he forces Pearson into the fence. Ross works to defend it, but he’s struggling to shake Dunham off him and he eats an elbow from close range. Pearson grabs a front facelock to defend and lands a knee from there that opens up a cut, but Dunham separates and then shoots again and drives the Brit back into the cage. Good knee from the clinch for Pearson but Dunham’s still forcing him backwards, and the crowd begin to boo slightly as Dunham can’t get Ross off his feet. One minute to go and he keeps on trying, but Pearson keeps on defending and both men land some decent shots inside the clinch with their elbows and knees. Pearson lands the slightly better shots, but he can’t shake Dunham off him enough and Dunham takes him down on the buzzer. 10-10 round so 30-28 for Dunham overall.

Judges score it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Evan Dunham. This was, surprisingly enough, Dunham’s best performance since probably his questionable loss to Sean Sherk in 2010 that had him on the cusp of the title scene. Dunham did fine striking with Pearson and his wrestling looked fantastic, as he took Ross down easily in the first and second round and then dominated him on the ground like nobody’s ever done before. Given that a look at his recent record actually only shows losses to the best in the division (RDA, Cerrone, TJ Grant) or massive one-hit killers (Barboza, Guillard) and considering that the RDA fight was razor-close and could’ve been scored for Dunham, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we see a real resurgence for Evan next year. As for Pearson, he seems to have settled into the role of tough gatekeeper now which is fine for him as he’ll be around for a long time to come, probably just not in the title scene.

Middleweight Fight: Michael Bisping vs Thales Leites

Initial rumors, once the idea of a Calderwood title shot was out of the window, had Bisping facing Gegard Mousasi here but when Mousasi ended up fighting on the Philippines card, Bisping was instead matched with Leites, who had looked fantastic since his 2013 return to the UFC and was on an eight-fight winning streak with more finishes than ever. In particular his striking had looked much improved since his return. That made this a tough fight to pick as in say, 2010 when Bisping was at his peak and Leites wasn’t as clean a striker, I’d have taken the Count all day. But Bisping had shown more of a tendency to get hit in his recent fights and with Leites not only possessing knockout power these days, but also his slick BJJ game, it wasn’t out of the realm of thought that the Brazilian could drop Bisping and then pounce on him to choke him out. In the end though I went with Bisping, feeling he’d be able to avoid Leites’ takedowns and pick him apart standing as he had done with the likes of CB Dollaway, Cung Le and Alan Belcher. After all, the only fight Bisping had outright looked bad in was against Tim Kennedy and that was after a year on the shelf, and there’s no shame in losing to a beast like Luke Rockhold. Side note but this was Bisping’s 24th UFC fight, a pretty impressive number no matter how you look at it.

Round One and Bisping circles on the outside, but takes an early leg kick from Leites. Crowd seem to be behind Bisping, almost surprising as you’d think an English guy might be a heel in Scotland. Low kick connects with Bisping’s groin and the ref has to call time. He’s okay to continue and they restart, with Bisping working to establish his jab. Big right hand misses for Leites and Bisping makes him pay with a right hand of his own. Good leg kick from the Brazilian. Big crowd chant for Bisping as he uses the jab to set up another right cross. Bisping’s doing a great job thus far of slipping Leites punches and landing ones of his own. Hard leg kick from Bisping. Leites tries to lead into the clinch with an uppercut, but Bisping shrugs it off and then glances with a head kick. More jabs from Bisping and he continues to avoid Leites’ wider strikes. Good leg kick from Leites. Bisping fires back with one of his own. Another one looks like it might’ve hurt Leites. Big counter right follows for Bisping. He’s looking sharp in this round. Beautiful combo snaps Leites’ head back and Bisping follows with a takedown, surprisingly enough. Leites tries to tie him up in the guard, but Bisping works into half-guard and lands a couple of shots. Sick reversal from Leites allows him to take the back though, but Bisping quickly scoots to the fence and gets onto his knees. Seconds to go and it looks like Bisping will be okay, and sure enough the round ends with Leites in back control. 10-9 Bisping in a pretty clear round.

Round Two and Bisping circles out of the way of a big Leites combo and lands his own heavy overhand right. Wild right hook connects with the back of Bisping’s head but he seems fine. Inside leg kick from Bisping. Overhand right follows. Leites seems a bit gunshy. Another inside leg kick from Bisping. Wild combo glances for Leites but Bisping circles out of range and lands a right hand and then a glancing head kick. Big right hand does land for Leites and Bisping has to back up. Jab answers for Bisping and then he catches Leites coming in with a clean left hook. Exchange of leg kicks knocks Bisping off balance for a second but he pops up right away. Inside leg kick from Bisping but Leites counters with a right hand. Bisping comes back with a hard body kick. Leg kick from Leites lands well. Both men land with leg kicks and Bisping glances on a counter right hand. Big right hook lands for Bisping. One minute to go now and the exchange continues, with Bisping really cracking Leites with a left hook. Leites comes back with a leg kick. Bisping returns fire with the inside leg kick, but Leites connects on an overhand right. Wheel kick misses for Bisping and the round ends there. 10-9 Bisping.

Round Three and Leites pushes forward with a body kick. Bisping comes back with another nice leg kick but Leites wades in with a big right hook and Bisping’s wobbled! Leites opens up with punches, looking to finish him off, but the Count manages to clinch to slow the Brazilian down. He was definitely rocked there. They separate and Bisping’s legs don’t quite seem right. Left hook from Leites and now both guys are swinging. Bisping avoids being backed into the fence, and lands with an inside leg kick. Right-left combo lands hard for Leites. He seems to be landing the harder shots for sure. Couple of jabs from Bisping set up a glancing head kick and then a leg kick that lands cleanly. Leites is cut around the left eye. Big overhand right from Leites. Spinning back kick is just about deflected by Leites’ arms. Right hand lands again for Leites and Bisping’s bleeding from the left eye too. Body kick from Leites. He catches Bisping with a counter right hand too. Good leg kick from Leites. Wild exchange sees Bisping land a heavy right and a left. Low kick is caught though and Leites takes him down. He looks to pass, but Bisping scrambles and escapes to his feet. Less than a minute to go and Bisping uses his jab to set up a big right cross. Right hand into a NASTY uppercut answer for Leites and Bisping has to clinch. They break off and the round ends just after. 10-9 Leites.

Round Four and Leites again wades in with a flurry that lands nastily. Bisping manages to circle out though and tries to pepper him with strikes from the outside. Good leg kick from Bisping. Pair of left hands connect for the Brit. Nice jab and a counter right to a leg kick follow as Leites tries to force him to back into the fence again. Another pair of rights from Leites land, but Bisping circles away from the fence. Overhand right glances for Bisping. Hard inside leg kick follows. Leg kick comes back for Leites. Couple more jabs and an inside leg kick land for the Brit. Surprised Leites hasn’t gone for more takedowns. Superman punch from Bisping is countered by a right hand from Leites. This is a hard round to score. Couple of solid shots by Bisping are shrugged off by Leites. Bisping’s beginning to catch him with combinations now though. Right hand answers for Leites as he’s backing Bisping up. Leg kick is caught by Leites but he can’t get Bisping down off it. Hard leg kick from Leites. Thirty seconds to go and Bisping stays on the outside and slips the big right hand again. Glancing head kicks for both men end the round. Razor-close one but I’d probably call it 10-9 Bisping.

Round Five and Leites pushes forward and lands another early flurry with Bisping’s back to the fence. Bisping doesn’t seem hurt this time though and he circles out and clips the Brazilian with a right hook. Big left hook glances for Leites. Trio of jabs set up a nice combination for Bisping. Left hand answers for Leites. Uppercut from Leites but Bisping cracks him with a hard right hand on the exit. Good left from Leites as he continues to walk Bisping down. Head kick ends a combo for Bisping but Leites shrugs it off. Good uppercut from Leites. Bisping stops him in his tracks with a counter right though. Nice combo from Leites has Bisping on the retreat but again he circles out of danger. Combo lands for Bisping. Couple of stiff jabs connect too. Right hand answers for Leites. This fight could still go either way really. Big right hand lands for Bisping. Good movement from Bisping allows him to avoid a wild right from Leites. Both guys still look quite fresh considering they’re in the fifth round. Big combo lands for Bisping and he follows with another. Leites continues to push the action but a counter combo connects for Bisping. Big right hand narrowly misses for Leites. Left hook does land and has Bisping a little rocked. Crowd are going crazy now as both guys continue to swing, Leites much more wildly. Flying knee attempt almost leads Bisping right into a big hook from the Brazilian. Round ends with another exchange. Close round as Bisping did better late on, but 10-9 Leites. I’ve got the whole fight 48-47 for Bisping but it was a close fight – the only clear rounds for me were the 1st for Bisping and the 3rd for Leites.

And we’ve got a split decision; 48-47 Leites, 49-46 Bisping and 48-47…for Michael Bisping. Crowd LOVE that one. I’d say it was just about the right call, too, as it was a very close fight throughout. Basically it was typical Bisping fare, similar to his fights with Akiyama, Stann and Dollaway in the past with Bisping taking the harder shots, but being able to survive them and basically outwork the opponent with volume strikes that never really got him close to a stoppage, but won him rounds. Pretty entertaining fight too with Leites doing his best Diego Sanchez impression at times by walking Bisping down towards the fence and then unloading with wild flurries. Post-fight Bisping shows off a SICK toe injury, looks like the big toe on his left foot is almost sliced in half, and explains that it made his usual fleet-footed movement tricky. Really gruesome stuff. He then calls out the top four guys in the division in Weidman, Rockhold, Jacare and Romero, and hey, why not. I don’t think he gets matched with any of them next though – maybe a rematch with Belfort or the long-awaited fight with Anderson Silva.

-Show ends with Goldie telling us that Bisping’s just one win from equalling Anderson Silva’s win record at 185lbs now. Well, surely that’s more reason to make that fight!

Final Thoughts….

Considering I wasn’t expecting much coming in this ended up being a pretty great show, slow fight between Edwards and Pawlak notwithstanding. We got a hell of a war between Calderwood and Casey, a couple of slick finishes from Duffy and Ray, Evan Dunham turning the clock back and then a solid main event between Bisping and Leites to top things off. If you ignored this one due to UFC overdose back in July it’s definitely worth checking out on Fight Pass now. Two thumbs up.

Best Fight: Calderwood vs. Casey
Worst Fight: Edwards vs. Pawlak

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com