By Thomas Gerbasi
LONDON, June 7 – He’s the UK’s brightest star, and in the UFC 85 co-feature at the O2 Arena tonight, Manchester middleweight Michael Bisping justified all the attention he received in the lead-up to the bout, scoring a dominating first round TKO over Jason Day to up his record to 17-1.
The crowd was into the bout from the start, and it was Bisping who kicked off the significant action with a takedown and ground and pound. Day (17-6) fought his way back up, but Bisping put him back on the mat, where he again fired away and seemed to be physically overpowering his foe. Day tried to spin his way out of trouble, but ‘The count’ was relentless with his attack, forcing referee Dan Miragliotta to halt the bout at 3:42 of the first round.
“I’ve always said that I never fought to the best of my ability in the UFC,” said Bisping. “I started to do that in my last fight, and I’m happy with my performance.”
It wasn’t the all-out war most people expected, but Mike Swick stuck to his gameplan and executed it, outpointing Marcus Davis in their welterweight bout and snapping ‘The Irish Hand Grenade’s 11 fight win streak in the process.
Scores were 29-27 across the board for Swick, who is now 2-0 as a welterweight after a 5-1 run in the UFC’s middleweight division.
Swick and Davis traded kicks early before Davis bulled Swick into the fence and then got the takedown. Swick kept his cool, working into the top position with Davis against the fence, increasing his ability to land strikes. Yet Davis’s defense on the ground was solid and he avoided serious trouble until Swick drew blood from his nose with under a minute left.
Looking to re-establish himself on the feet, Davis came out fast in the second, but ate a couple of kicks from Swick for his trouble, with the ensuing scramble seeing Davis get put on his back again. Swick, more active than in the previous round, continually looked to better his position, with Davis trying to lock up his opponent’s arm in the process. With two minutes left in the round, the two stood and Davis again threw his hands, landing some solid shots on the inside as Swick went for a Thai clinch. An ensuing trip to the canvas saw Swick go for a quick submission, and another takedown in the final seconds clinched the round for the Texas native.
Davis, visibly having problems getting around Swick’s reach and movement, was able to land some early shots on his foe, only to get nullified on the inside. With under two minutes left, Swick was docked a point for grabbing the fence, and it apparently fired him up as he took the now bloodied Davis down and opened up in an attempt to end the bout, but there would be no finish in this one.
With the win, Swick improves to 12-2; Davis falls to 19-5.
With all the changes to the UFC 85 card, the middleweight matchup between Thales Leites and Nate Marquardt was bumped to the pay-per-view portion of the show, and the fans viewing at home were the true winners, as both fighters battled it out tooth and nail for 15 minutes, with Leites emerging victorious via a split decision that would have gone Marquardt’s way if not for two point deductions.
Scores were 28-27, 28-27, and 27-28 for Leites. Who ups his record to 13-1; Marquardt drops to 29-8-2.
Both fighters circled and pecked at each other for the opening 1:30, with Leites drawing first blood thanks to a right hand to the head that put Marquardt on the canvas. Leites followed his foe to the mat, looking to end things, but after battling to side control, Marquardt found his way back to his feet and tried to use his strikes to get close and score a takedown. A right uppercut to the jaw by Marquardt staggered Leites late in the round, but he was unable to make the most of his good fortune before the bell sounded.
In round two, the fight continued at a fast clip, but was halted for a few moments when Marquardt caught Leites with an illegal knee to the head while the Brazilian’s knee was still on the canvas, costing the Colorado product a point. After the break, Marquardt pounced on Leites, taking him down and opening up with ground strikes that bloodied his foe’s nose. Leites weathered the onslaught and tried to land a submission to no avail, but he did get the fight stood up with under 30 seconds left. This time Leites took the fight to the mat and tried to finish before the bell intervened.
The bout went to the mat almost immediately in the final frame, but the exciting ground work was halted momentarily when Marquardt was docked a point by referee Herb Dean for hitting behind the head. Replays showed that the blow was legal.
“I think it was a bad call,” said Marquardt. “It was to the side of the head.”
After the action resumed, Leites tried to work his jab, falling short, but his right hand definitely got Marquardt’s attention as it landed flush. Halfway through the round, the fight hit the mat and both fighters tried to make something happen, Marquardt with his strikes and a final second piledriver-esque manuever, and Leites with his submissions. Neither was able to finish the bout though, leaving it in the hands of the judges.
Controversy reigned in the main card opener, as fans booed what they perceived to be a quick stoppage in Fabricio Werdum’s first round TKO of Brandon Vera, overshadowing what was another strong performance by the Brazilian heavyweight, who was coming off a big TKO win over Gabriel Gonzaga in January.
The pace in the beginning stage of the bout was tactical, with neither man wanting to make a costly mistake. Werdum scored the first takedown of the fight 1:40 in, but after some ground strikes by the Brazilian, Vera jumped to his feet and retaliated with his own strikes, bruising Werdum over the right eye. With under a minute to go, Werdum was able to get a more emphatic takedown and he quickly looked to change position. With 30 seconds left, he got what he wanted as he moved into the mount position. A series of unanswered strikes followed as Vera covered up. Without any return fire from the Californian, referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to halt the bout at 4:40 of the round, drawing boos and an immediate protest from Vera.
“Fabricio did his job,” said Vera. “He mounted me and punched me in the face and I knew I was in a bad position. But I said, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay.’ I’m gonna quit? Are you kidding me? It’s 15 seconds left; let me take my ass whupping and let’s go to a second round.”
With the win, Werdum improves to 11-3-1; Vera falls to 8-2.
Bisping Spectacular in UFC 85 Stoppage of Day
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - He’s the UK’s brightest star, and in the UFC 85 co-feature at the O2 Arena tonight, Manchester middleweight Michael Bisping justified all the attention he received in the lead-up to the bout, scoring a dominating first round TKO over Jason Day to up his record to 17-1.