By Alex Giardini – Via MMA Mania-
UFC Fight Night 48: “Bisping vs. Le” took place this past Saturday morning (Aug. 23, 2014) live on “Fight Pass” from Cotai Arena in Macau, China. And apart from the headlining fights, the card itself wasn’t exactly “UFC caliber.”
Then again, is that even a thing anymore?
In a fight card full of questionable judging decisions, weird stoppages and lackluster fights brought to you by fighters who should be on Legacy FC under cards, at least both Michael Bisping and Tyron Woodley delivered when it mattered most.
In the main event, Bisping used his fancy footwork and crisp combinations to pummel Cung Le, who looked like six people had jumped him by the fourth round. “The Count” secured the stoppage after lacing the former Strikeforce middleweight champion with some brutal shots, and dropped him with a knee to secure the 25th victory of his career (highlights here).
Tyron Woodley needed just 61 seconds to decimate Dong Hyun Kim, catching “Stun Gun” with a right hand after the South Korean attempted a spinning back fist in the co-main event. “Chosen One” redeems himself after a lackluster performance against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174, bouncing right back into contention.
Fast-forward a few hours later, the action resumed on FOX Sports 1 for UFC Fight Night 49: “Henderson vs. dos Anjos” which took place at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., and the main event saw Rafael dos Anjos shock the world with his knockout over Ben Henderson.
The Brazilian looked great with his speed and the power he through in his strikes, matching everything the former UFC lightweight champion threw his way. After pressing forward and attacking “Smooth,” dos Anjos rocked Henderson with double flying knees, and clocked his foe with a huge left hand that took the legs out from under Henderson.
Some may call it a questionable stoppage from “Big” John McCarthy, but Henderson did go limp.
In the co-main event, Jordan Mein continued his rise up the welterweight rankings by knocking out Mike Pyle in just 72 seconds. There weren’t many strikes thrown in the bout, except for “Young Gun’s” lethal fight-ending combination.
It must have felt good for him, considering the troubles surrounding his camp before the battle, which probably didn’t affect him whatsoever.
Let’s look at the biggest winners and losers from this past weekend:
Biggest Winner — Rafael dos Anjos
I understand some may have an issue with the stoppage, yet looking at Henderson’s body go limp should put the issue to rest.
When a fighter’s lights get turned out, the fight should be stopped. There are examples where officials could have missed some in the past, yet if we can all agree on a referee being there to protect the fighter, then there shouldn’t be any controversy here.
Apart from that, dos Anjos looked spectacular. His punches were on point, mixing power with speed and got a few counters in, too. You’ve got to give the Brazilian credit for pouncing on “Smooth” once he knew he was hurt, and that right there is a perfect example of how a fighter should turn it on.
But the matchmaking is going to be tricky for dos Anjos, who knocked off a former UFC champion. He holds a win against Donald Cerrone (who fights Eddie Alvarez), but lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov not too long ago.
You’ve got to think the names mentioned are in the title picture … so, where does that leave the Kings MMA product?
Time will tell.
Runner Ups — Michael Bisping, Tyron Woodley
Just when you thought his career was winding down, “The Count” won one of the most important bouts of his career, remaining in the pack when it comes to the 185-pound weight class.
Bisping pretty much mauled an aging Le, who looked a lot slower and less in shape than his main event foe. After showing vast improvement in his footwork and strikes, while maintaining fantastic cardio, the Englishman dominated the former Strikeforce middleweight champion and made a point that he wasn’t going anywhere fast.
For a fighter who could have lost it all had he come up short in Macau, Bisping proved he’s still a tough opponent for his middleweight counterparts, securing the ninth TKO victory of his UFC career. Also, he’s never lost two-straight bouts, which is pretty good for someone who has been employed since 2006.
Let’s see who the promotion matches him up against, because there’s no questioning his drawing power. It just may be a little too rewarding for him to challenge someone like Luke Rockhold.
For those who felt as if “The Chosen One” choked in big fights, he certainly turned the tide and made his skeptics choke on their words once his co-main event battle in Macau concluded.
If “T-Wood” suffered another loss, he would have been relegated to the mid-card, with his rank plummeting in the welterweight division. It’s as if he stormed into Macau as a man on a mission, and would settle for no less than an emphatic victory.
Stopping “Stun Gun” with punches in 61 seconds was extremely impressive, especially when you consider Kim’s four-fight winning streak upon entering the bout. Plus, Woodley had a lot of expectations going into the fight, and the Missouri native must feel good considering the problems that surround his peers back at home.
Biggest Loser — Ben Henderson
Taking the fight against dos Anjos was a big gamble, and “Smooth” has to be feeling the burn.
It’s not like this defeat ruins the rest of his career, although it knocks him out of the title picture for the foreseeable future, regardless of what his employers might think of the referee’s call. For a guy with such a good chin who only lost to Anthony Pettis in his entire Zuffa tenure, this really wasn’t a good way to go out in Tulsa.
Plus, as decent as “Bendo” was doing, he was in some serious trouble after taking the knees to the face.
Could he have recovered from that?
I guess we’ll never know.
Runner Ups — Cung Le, Dong Hyun Kim
After an impressive career in the martial arts, including an undefeated kickboxing record, Le may want to consider hanging up the gloves for good after a defeat close to home.
After his moneymaker was smashed apart by Bisping, you have to wonder how many more beatings the former Strikeforce middleweight champion is willing to take, considering his activity in Hollywood.
Also, Le looked as if he hadn’t fought in two years, and the age is definitely catching up to him. Plus, if he’s more interested in superfights and isn’t willing to chase the middleweight title, what does he have left to prove?
You could say Kim just got caught, or that his reckless fighting style caught up to him.
Throwing caution to the wind wasn’t the best idea against someone as good as Woodley in the boxing department, and “Stun Gun” paid a hefty price for his shortcomings.
Losing in 61 seconds should haunt anyone, but it seems a lot more damaging considering Kim’s recent run of success. He was somewhat of a forgotten contender in the welterweight division, and his four-fight winning streak — which included two knockout wins — pretty much means nothing now.
With numerous welterweights in line with their sights set on Johny Hendricks, the South Korean finds himself at the end, and the chances of returning to contention aren’t in his favor.