Michael Bisping and Tim Kennedy met in an important middleweight clash at The Ultimate Fighter: Nations Finale on Wednesday night at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City.
No. 8-ranked Kennedy controlled the action for the better part of five rounds and earned the decision over the No. 5-ranked Bisping.
It was Kennedy's grappling that made the difference. He was able to take Bisping down throughout the fight, keep him down and even pass his guard. Bisping has been notorious for getting back to his feet, but he just could not do it enough against Kennedy.
This is what we learned from the TUF: Nations Finale.
What We'll Remember About This Fight
The most memorable portion of this fight was Kennedy's ground game.
We have always known he is a competent grappler, and some may say even underrated at times. Those days are now gone with a dominant display on Bisping.
Really, really impressed with Tim Kennedy's matwork. Always secured crossface in half guard. Couldn't be stopped as a passer. Scary stuff.— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) April 17, 2014
Bisping has been known for his ability to work his way back to his feet quickly. He did so several times against high-level wrestlers like Chael Sonnen, but against Kennedy, he was not able to do so with his normal gusto.
Not only was Kennedy able to keep Bisping down, but he was able to pass his guard and get to mount on several occasions.
This was a thoroughly impressive performance from Kennedy.
What We Learned About Michael Bisping
Heading into the fight, there were questions surrounding Bisping's eye. Coming off complicated surgery to his eye, it was a wonder how he would compete.
We learned that all things look fine on that front.
He did get tagged a couple of times from Kennedy, but nothing that would suggest his eye was a hindrance. He looked like the old Bisping with his high-volume striking and solid defense. There should be few questions surrounding the eye moving forward.
That is a great sign.
What We Learned About Tim Kennedy
The once-underrated grappler now may be one of the most feared.
Kennedy showed fantastic level changes off of his striking in order to shoot in. Once Kennedy was able to grab a hold of Bisping, he was able to get him to the canvas more often than not. It was a quality showing from the Ranger.
Kennedy's grappling has largely been heralded for his defense against the likes of Jacare Souza and others, but he got to showcase his offensive ability against Bisping.
Kennedy's progression as a mixed martial artist will move him up the ranks in the division, and now he is not too far off earning a title-elimination bout.
What's Next for Michael Bisping
Bisping looked good in a loss, but it was still a loss. There has been no shortage of middleweights who have called out Bisping, but the UFC should be careful in who it puts him in the cage against next.
Thales Leites would be a nice fight for Bisping's next outing.
Leites is another longtime veteran of the sport, and he is coming off an impressive win at UFC Fight Night 39.
The fight could co-main event a Fox Sports 1 or Fox card in the near future with significant impact on the middleweight division.
What's Next for Tim Kennedy
Souza or Luke Rockhold.
Kennedy has lost Strikeforce title bouts to both men, but he has improved a lot since that time. The fight would make a lot of sense in the middleweight division, as both Rockhold and Souza are in the top five.
It is entirely possible that it could end up being a title-eliminator bout.
Souza is recovering from an injury and would need to return by early fall, and Rockhold would have to get past Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 for either fight to move forward. Whomever is available would make an excellent choice for Kennedy.
The storyline behind either rematch would make for an excellent Fight Night main event.