The UFC’s first trip to Mainland China brought a lot of exciting bouts and some very nasty finishes.
Michael Bisping took this bout just three weeks after Georges St-Pierre dropped and beat up on him. I commend him for always being that legit fighter who is willing to take up any challenge, even on short notice, but this was a bad idea from the start.
Apart from trying to recover from all the emotions involved in losing a title in such a massive bout, returning that quick after all the damage he took at UFC 217 was also concerning. He would also come back against a much younger fighter, while not having much of a training camp. It was truly an uphill climb for the former champion, and the bout really didn’t end up well for him.
After a brief feeling out period that saw Bisping land some light shots, Kelvin Gastelum landed two big punches that immediately put him out cold.
It was the biggest win of his career, and he added yet another former champion to his resume. I really hate to take away anything from Gastelum as he did everything right, but at the same time, it’s tough to say that we didn’t see this one coming.
Two concussions in three weeks can’t be great for Bisping’s long term health, but he is adamant that he isn’t retiring just yet. He plans to have one last bout in his home country this March.
- Li Jingliang, who has showed to be the most consistent and successful Chinese UFC fighter so far, picked up another quality win to extend his winning streak to 4. He dropped Zak Ottow, and pounced on him until the referee stopped it. The local crowd kept going crazy during this bout, and it’s clear that he’s the biggest fan favorite of the night. He called for a title shot, and while that’s still premature, it was nice to see him get that special moment in the UFC’s first trip to Mainland China.
- Wang Guan had a successful debut, displaying that big power he was notorious for in the Chinese MMA scene. Alex Caceres played with fire and stood with him, and he was dropped numerous times, and arguably should’ve been stopped on the opening round. Apart from allowing Caceres to be dragged to his corner, the referee also didn’t take away a point from him despite THREE low blows in the bout. Overall, it was terrible refereeing and judging as somehow one judge gave 29-28 to Caceres despite being battered for most of the bout and an easy 10-8 opening round.
- Alex Garcia kicked off the main card with a nice rear naked choke over Muslim Salikhov. It was technical and disciplined, and the TriStar gym product seemed to show a lot of improvement.
- Zabit Magomedsharipov, at around 6-foot-2, is one of the tallest guys in featherweight, but as he displayed against Moraes, it’s on the ground where he shines. Apart from the excellent control, he also had beautiful throws and suplexes before finishing with an anaconda.
- Song Kenan blasted Bobby Nash really early with a right straight. He didn’t even know the fight was over and was still trying to push on with a takedown after it was long over.
- Yan Xiaonan put on a Sanda clinic with gorgeous sidekicks, but also showed much improved hands from her days in the regional circuit. She picked apart and dropped Curran numerous times, en route to an impressive unanimous decision. Xianan lives up to her reputation as an action fighter and the Chinese fighter proved to be an exciting addition to the UFC.
- Chinese fighters started 0-3 on this card. Song Yadong finally got them on the win column, landing a huge overhand that dropped Bharat Kandare and finishing him off with a front choke. At just 19-years-old, he showed athleticism, quick hands and slick combinations. It’s too early to label him as the next big thing, but the UFC is possibly salivating at the idea of him improving more and blossoming to a top level fighter.
- Chase Sherman had a bit of hype coming into this bout, but Shamil Abdurakhimov had none of it. After a couple of early good counters scored, a beautiful overhand right landed, and it was over quick as the Vanilla Gorilla was put to sleep.
- Wu Yanan’s shoulder seems to have popped out of its socket, but she showed incredible heart to continue the contest. Unfortunately, she still has a lot of holes to fill, and Gina Mazany took advantage and picked up a quality decision.
- Rolando Dy faced very tough competition on his first two UFC bouts. Although they were very competitive, he dropped both after unfortunate fouls affected the outcome. Dy showed up on very short notice for this card, and although he missed weight, the Filipino used his striking chops to beat the local Chinese fighter in Buren and pick up his first win in the UFC.
- Opening the night, Cyril Asker made it to the 2nd round for the first time in his UFC career. He dominated on the ground against Hu Yaozong, who came in on short notice.
- After starting out 0-3, the overall record of Chinese fighters on this card ended at 5-3.