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Un-caged: Sydney event not Bisping’s finest hour

Brian Kirk reflects on an incident-packed trip to Australia for England’s Michael Bisping. Now with added illegal knees and spitting.

Jewtuszko versus Warburton at UFC 127 at Acer Arena, Sydney.
Jewtuszko versus Warburton at UFC 127 at Acer Arena, Sydney.
Image: Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

AS THE DUST settled on another successful jaunt to Australia for the UFC, many talking points have arisen from what turned out to be a lively event Down Under.

Unfortunately most have centred on the unsavoury happenings in the Bisping-Rivera bout, which somewhat overshadowed the real business of fighting. As I mentioned last week there had been a serious amount of trash talk emanating from Rivera’s camp towards Bisping in an obvious attempt to try and wind him up.

The tension threatened to boil over at the weigh-ins and I don’t think one fight fan was surprised when neither fighter touched gloves at the start of the fight.

As the fight got underway, “The Count” looked visibly fired up and looked to get after Rivera from the get go, exchanging on the feet before taking him down early in the first. “El Conquistador” managed to get back to his feet relatively easy to exchange again, only to be taken down once more.

After shaking off Bisping Rivera was in the process of getting back to his feet, (both knees were still grounded), Bisping hit him flush with an illegal knee that caught him in the centre of his forehead.

The ref immediately stepped in and called for the doctors to assess Rivera, who looked dazed and glassy eyed. When all this was going on, Bisping had given Rivera’s corner, who participated in making the videos against him, an obscene hand gesture and seemed to question whether Rivera was really that badly hurt.
For a few minutes it looked like the fight would be stopped but Rivera indicated that he felt he could continue.

Bisping was deducted a point and the fight restarted. As the second round got underway it seemed that Jorge was feeling no ill-effects of the knee as he dropped Michael with a right hand. However Bisping recovered quickly and began connecting with a series of heavy right hands that were met with no reply and forced the referee to stop the fight.

After the fight had finished, and as Rivera was being attended to, the Manchester-based fighter headed towards his opponent’s corner once more and appeared to spit on the ground close to where they were standing before turning his attentions to the still-grounded American demanding an apology, complaining that the Rivera camp had insulted his family in the build up to the fight.

The actions of Bisping in the immediate aftermath of the bout only served to take the shine off what was an important win for the British Middleweight fighter and he could do with taking a leaf out of George St Pierre’s book when it comes to dealing with trash talk leading up to a fight, and handling himself after one. He has since apologised however, saying he got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Results Round-up

Thankfully the only other slightly controversial moment in the rest of the event was the judges’ decision to award a draw in the BJ Penn Jon Fitch bout. Penn startled everyone with his game plan of trying to take down the bigger man in Fitch and it seemed to work, taking him down twice in the first round as well as bloodying his nose up with some dirty boxing against the cage.

The two men exchanged takedowns in round two with Penn ending up taking Fitch’s back before being reversed wit Jon finishing the round on top landing his customary punches and elbows. Fitch carried that momentum into the final round and landed over 140 strikes compared to Penn’s 2.  It was those final flourishes that lead many to believe Fitch had nicked the fight.

Penn’s body language after the final bell was one of a beaten man but the judges scored it a majority draw with scores of 29-28 Fitch, 28-28 and 28-28. If GSP vacates his Welterweight Championship belt to fight Anderson Silva, it is thought Penn and Fitch could re-match for the title.

Dennis Siver upset the home crowd favourite George Sotiropoulos with a decision victory that ended the Aussie’s unbeaten UFC record. Siver continuously stuffed Sotiropoulos’ takedown attempts and managed to utilise his better stand-up skills in an efficient display. The win was the German’s third in a row and could put him in contention for a title shot.

Kyle Noke did give the Australia fans something to cheer about with his first round dismantling of TUF cast mate Chris Camozzi via rear naked choke less than two minutes into the first round.  In the other bout of the main card an unorthodox display from Brian Ebersole saw him gain a shock decision win over Chris “Lights Out” Lytle which earned the “Fight of the Night” honours.

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Brian Kirk

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