UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama wasn’t the strongest looking card on paper. Anytime a card is free on SpikeTV and headlined by Michael Bisping, it usually means most non-UK MMA fans aren’t clamoring to see the event. That’s why they fight though. Because if every fight took place on paper, I’d have a perfect prediction record and the action wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Michael Bisping defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
If there’s a UFC event in London, chances are Michael Bisping is going to be on the card and he’s going to turn in a good performance. And if there’s one thing we know about Yoshihiro Akiyama in the UFC, his name is always on the Fight of the Night check. This event was no exception.
Akiyama started off this fight very strong. He connected with an overhand right that seemed to stagger Bisping but to Bisping’s credit, he kept his composure and stayed on his feet. That punch may have actually hurt Akiyama because he spent the rest of the fight looking for that big right hand but couldn’t find a home for it. Bisping on the other hand did find a home for his right hand and he battered Akiyama throughout the fight with it. Bisping also did a nice job keeping Akiyama at bay with the jab, moving well when Akiyama would press forward, and going for takedowns that, even though they were stuffed, he used to throw Akiyama off balance and do more damage. Akiyama’s parents blessed him with a great chin (or Bisping continued to show his lack of power) but Bisping’s pace was just too much for him. Despite moving to Greg Jackson’s camp for this fight, Akiyama didn’t seem to have a great gameplan and his conditioning was not where it needed to be to hang with Bisping. “Sexyama” might be the nickname of Akiyama but if he keeps taking this many punches to the face he’s not going to have a modeling career after his fighting career is over.
This was by far Bisping’s best performance to date and given his popularity in England and the fact that UFC loves to market international fighters, he’s likely one win away from a title shot. Even though he’s putting on great fights, Akiyama’s next fight is a must win given his salary and expectations.
Predicted Next Fights: Bisping vs. Marquardt/Okami winner – Akiyama vs. Maia/Grove winner
Carlos Condit defeated Dan Hardy by KO (Punches) at 4:27 in Round One
Anytime you put Carlos Condit in the cage, you know it’s going to be an exciting fight. Dan Hardy talks a big game and always brings it as well. So when this fight ended in a knockout, the only people shocked were Dan Hardy and the UK crowd.
You knew this fight was going to be a stand up war. Hardy likes to knock people out and Condit likes to beat people up. Condit started off very smart, working the inside leg kick to throw off the timing of Hardy. Every time they exchanged punches it seemed like Hardy would get the better of things, especially with his left hook, but Condit has a very durable chin. They ended up getting into another exchange where they missed with right hooks and came back with simultaneous left hooks. They both connected but Condit connected harder. Hardy went down and two punches later, he was out cold. Condit became the first man knockout Hardy and he did so in spectacular fashion and in Hardy’s hometown.
Condit is now right at the top of the welterweight division and there is only one fight that makes sense for him: Jon Fitch. If anyone is going to make Fitch fight an exciting fight and work for a finish, it’s Condit. This was a big set back for Hardy. I thought he was rushed into a title shot with Georges St. Pierre and that was proven at UFC 111. Now he fought another top-level welterweight and lost. Hardy can still be a threat but can he be better than a mid-level threat?
Predicted Next Fights: Condit vs. Fitch – Hardy vs. Serra
Mike Pyle defeated John Hathaway by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
When John Hathaway’s opponent went from Dong Hyun Kim to Mike Pyle, many believe it would be an easy victory for the young Brit who showed a lot of promise in his dominance over Diego Sanchez. Not so fast my friends. Pyle had plans to spoil Hathaway’s homecoming and spoil it he did.
Pyle fought the perfect fight. He avoided anything significant on the feet and used a lot of movement to throw Hathaway off his game. Hathaway could never seem to find the range or chin of Pyle and when he tried for takedowns, Pyle easily avoided them. On the ground is where Pyle really dominated this fight. Even though he’s a good wrestler as a Brit, Hathaway is still a British wrestler. Pyle was able to clinch and get trip takedowns, which put Hathaway onto the uncomfortable position of being on his back. Pyle had a mounted triangle and was raining down punches and elbows for nearly two minutes at the end of second round but Hathaway was able to survive. It made no difference though as Pyle continued his controlling ways on the ground en route to an easy decision victory.
With this victory, Pyle has breathed so new life into his MMA career. He’s now in the welterweight mix and could be a threat to certain fighters given his skill and experience. This could be the best thing to happen to Hathaway. You never want to lose but when you’re a young fighter with a lot of hype, it’s better to lose early to keep you humble and prepared for the future.
Predicted Next Fights: Pyle vs. Mike Swick – Hathaway vs. Brown/Foster winner
Cheick Kongo and Travis Browne fought to a Unanimous Draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
You would think that matching up a wild striker with power against a technical striker with power would produce fireworks. I’m sure that’s what Joe Silva thought when he made this fight. Sadly, Cheick Kongo knows how to ruin even the best of fights.
Travis Browne came out very wild but Kongo couldn’t take advantage of things. In fact, Kongo got caught up in Browne’s brawling and style and got rocked with a left hook. Browne spent the rest of the first round constantly moving forward and looking for one big punch but never found it. In the second and third rounds, Kongo reverted back to his “afraid to get hit” self. He did a lot of clinching, worked the knees to the thighs of Browne, and held the shorts multiple times. Kongo was docked a point for holding the shorts in the third round but that didn’t stop him from continuing to do it. Whenever they were in striking range, Kongo landed the better punches and started to counter the wild punches of Browne but that action was few and far between. At the end of the third, thanks to the docked point, I had the fight a draw and so did all three judges at cageside. It was a lackluster decision to a rather lackluster fight.
I’d be happy if I never have to see Kongo or Browne fight again. It’s clear that Kongo won’t make it past the mid-level and unless Browne dramatically improves, he isn’t long for the UFC. Have them fight again so no one else is affected by their suckitude, stick them on the undercard, and then release the loser.
Predicted Next Fights: Kongo vs. Browne 2
Alexander Gustafsson defeated Cyrille Diabate by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:41 in Round Two
This fight was a scheduled prelim fight but I guess Claude Patrick vs. James Wilks wasn’t the most exciting contest in the world so we were treated to this contest instead. I can’t say that decision upset me.
Unfortunately for Cyrille Diabate, it wasn’t much of a contest. The younger and less experienced Alexander Gustafsson tagged Diabate early with the straight right hand and eventually dropped him with a left hook. From that point on, Diabate was in survival mode for the rest of the first round. Gustafsson continued to keep the pressure on, dropped Diabate again with an uppercut, and even knocked his mouthpiece out later in the round. Diabate managed to survive the first round but just barely. Gustafsson came out just as strong in the second round, immediately took Diabate down, got his back, cut him open, and worked hard and eventually sunk in a rear naked choke for the victory.
There is a lot to like from Gustafsson following this victory. He out struck the superior striker and then dominated him on the ground. The kid is only 23 years old and if he continues to improve, he could be a threat in the division. Diabate is a nice fighter to have around because he is a veteran and he usually has exciting fights so hopefully he sticks around for one more fight.
Predicted Next Fight: Gustafsson vs. Jason Brilz – Diabate vs. Kyle Kingsbury