Leon Edwards vs Albert Tumenov
Leon Edwards – a young, talented UK fighter put his skills on display in the second bout of the night, against the always durable and dangerous Albert Tumenov. The local boy had a great first round showing some dominant wrestling and managing to drag Tumenov to the ground and keep him there for the better part of the round. Edwards was patient in top position and besides for one short-lived reversal, was able to pass smoothly into side control before quickly transitioning into mount and taking Tumenov’s back. Although not threatening with many submission attempts, Edwards was able to totally dominate the round and looked fresh as he walked back to his corner.
Round two saw Edwards coming out with a lot less volume, which Tumenov capitalized on. The Russian fighter began to come to life and started to find more of a rhythm with his strikes. After defending two sloppy takedown attempts from Edwards, Tumenov gained even more confidence and really started teeing off with hard shots that were finding their mark.
Round three started the way round two ended, with Tumenov landing at will and the Englishman seemingly not having an answer. However as the round progressed, Edwards was able to secure a takedown and quickly transitioned to the back, once again being patient as he looked for the submission. He sank in the rear naked choke and the fight came to an end.
Uri Alcantara vs Brad Picket
Alcantara opened with some good in out combinations, keeping Picket from countering by landing some hard kicks to the body. He started working angles from the word go and Picket’s chin was already being tested within the first minute or two of the round. Alcantara managed to land a spinning back elbow at the end of an exchange which stunned Picket, almost dropping him and allowing space for Alcantara to unleash a volley of strikes. The fight went to the ground with Alcantara unleashing a chain of submission attempts, quickly securing the mounted triangle before transitioning to the armbar ending up with a tight triangle choke, to which Picket was forced to tap. Fantastic performance by Uri Alcantara.
Mersad Bektic vs Russel Doane
Bektic came out fast and hard, landing some good shots with fantastic speed and accuracy. He kept it tight and blasted Doane with some straight punches and snapping head kicks before entering beautifully into the double leg and taking the fight to the ground. After controlling the Hawaiian on the mat for the most part of the round, Bektic allowed Doane up to his feet briefly before dragging him back down and quickly sinking in both hooks. Although Doane managed to fight off the first attempt, Bektic quickly secured the rear naked choke and brought the fight to a close. Exciting fighter with a good all round skill-set and loads of confidence.
Vitor Belfot vs Gegard Mousasi
The first round started with Mousasi chipping at Belforts legs with some hard kicks from both stances before Belfort tried to time an explosion on the counter. As the minutes went on, Mousasi was able to keep the centre of the octagon and dictate with his jab. Vitor seemed to be using a lot of energy to evade the strikes and lead kicks of Mousasi and towards the end of the round was caught with a couple of punches.
Mousasi came out in the second popping a very effective jab into the face of Belfort, continuing to dictate the range of the fight. Vitor landed a monster roundhouse to the body of Mousasi which he surprisingly shook off before pushing Vitor towards the cage once again. From the first round, Mousasi’s timing was on point and he made that clear midway through the second round when he landed a huge kick to the head of Belfort, wobbling him badly. Mousasi rushed in for the kill. Belfort was backed up against the cage while Mousasi threw a tremendous amount of punches, many of them landing on target. The Vitor Belfort of old may have been able to wade his way out with shots of his own, but not this time. Mousasi continued on the attack with Vitor soon crumpling to the ground with his opponent landing devastating ground and pound. The ref had seen enough and Mousasi was declared the winner of the bout.
Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping
I couldn’t help going into this one hoping just a little bit that before retiring into hall of fame status, Hendo would pull it off and take the Middleweight belt in his final battle in the octagon. It would be the cherry on the cake for what has been an incredible career for Dan Henderson. Much the same way I felt in Bisping’s last fight in which he dethroned the seemingly unbeatable Luke Rockhold. Bisping had worked so hard for so many years and there is nothing better than seeing the underdog take gold. Either way, both these guys were going to fight like their lives depended on it and I knew we were in for an unforgettable fight.
Bisping came out looking supremely confident. The Manchester crowd fuelling him on, I started to think it may be a hard fight for Hendo, who looked his age as he walked out through the jeers of the English crowd.
Both men started cautiously with Bisping staying grounded in his stance and Hendo waiting patiently for a chance to unleash a power right hand. By two minutes in, neither had really done much and were both content to feel things out a bit more. Bisping began to control the distance well and Dan started to miss with a few sloppy right hands while eating a couple of the Englishman’s jabs. When Bisping ended a combination with a left hook, Hendo timed it perfectly and landed his signature nuclear bomb of a right hand, dropping Bisping hard onto the mat. What followed was a total onslaught from Henderson, which almost saw the fight ended. Yet somehow Bisping managed to survive and get back up to his feet before the round came to an end. How Bisping survived that, I just don’t know.
Round two began with a bloodied and swollen faced Bisping pushing the action and backing Dan up with the switch kick, which he had been looking for repeatedly in the first round. Controlling the rest of the round with his movement and work-rate, Bisping looked sharp and began putting nice combinations together, working his way in and out with clever feints. When the champion began to lose focus a little, Henderson capitalized and landed another thunderous right hand, dropping Bisping again. Hendo wasn’t able to do much in top position and the round came to a close leaving me torn about which way to score the round.
The third round was all Bisping. Hendo looking tired and desperate in his search for the knockout shot and he seemed to be one step behind in everything he did. Bisping led beautifully with the right cross and followed with hard kicks to the body of Henderson time and time again. This time Michael Bisping managed to avoid the power of Henderson and continue to pick him apart, using his lead leg to feint and then whip hard switch kicks to the legs and head of Henderson.
The fourth round saw Bisping land a hard kick to the groin of Hendo, which gave the challenger some valuable time to recover. The rest of the round saw Bisping staying one step ahead of Henderson, keeping him on the end of combinations and kicks, although not with as much sting as in the previous round.
Both came out looking energized in the fifth and Henderson landed a lot more than in the rounds prior. He was also able to take Bisping down, however their time on the mat was short lived with Bisping getting back to his feet without issue. The latter part of the round saw Bisping open up in an attempt to win what had been a very close round and both men ended the fight with a flurry of strikes.
The judges saw the fight the way I did and scored it unanimously for Bisping. Although Hendo landed some massive shots, they were to few and far between. He needed to have finished the champ when he has the opportunity. Bisping used his lead leg and feints very cleverly to keep Hendo at range while teeing off with some creative combinations. The champion was able to stay just out of range of the H-Bomb and showed great composure, especially when he did get hurt by Hendo’s powerful blows. The fight really showed the evolution of Michael Bisping and how seriously he has taken being the champion. He has been consistently improving and keeps performing outstandingly at the highest level of MMA. He certainly doesn’t look like he’ll be giving up that belt anytime soon.
All in all, a great night of fights.