It wasn't pretty, but that won't show up on Tim Kennedy's record sheet.
The decorated U.S. Army Ranger moved to 3-0 as a UFC fighter Wednesday night when he outworked a rusty Michael Bisping to take a unanimous-decision victory in the main event of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia.
Both men began the fight looking to establish their respective (and divergent) styles: Bisping relies on a fleet-footed point-kickboxing game, while Kennedy's attack is predicated on power wrestling. Kennedy won the early exchanges, scoring on both of his takedown attempts, according to UFC stat provider FightMetric, and countering Bisping's jab with right hands over the top.
As the fight wore on, Kennedy appeared to lose steam, while Bisping worked to turn up the heat with his kickboxing. However, Kennedy's counterstriking led to some tentativeness from Bisping, who had difficulty finding his range and scoring points in part because of a reluctance to throw his jab. Still, Bisping had a clear speed edge and used it to damage Kennedy with kicks and punches.
The fourth round proved pivotal, as Kennedy landed two big right hands that hurt Bisping and probably did more damage than any other sequence in the fight. Yes, it was that kind of fight.
Kennedy salted away the victory with a big takedown early in the fifth, which proved to be the bout's last major piece of offense.
On the night, Kennedy passed Bisping's guard 11 times, which is the most Bisping has ever allowed, according to Michael Carroll of FightMetric:
After the bout, Kennedy told broadcaster Jon Anik in the cage that we was unhappy with his performance, despite the win.
"I'm furious," he said. "I finish fights, but I didn't finish the fight tonight. He took my best shots."
Despite Kennedy's apparent fury, it still goes down as a win, and it moves the 34-year-old to 18-4 as a pro. Bisping, fighting for the first time in a year because of an eye injury that required emergency surgery, drops to 24-6 on his career.