UFC Fight Night 48: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
At UFC Fight Night 48 on Saturday, Michael Bisping continued his roller-coaster path toward a shot at the middleweight title.
The Englishman kept the pressure on Cung Le for more than three rounds until he finally overwhelmed the former Strikeforce champion in the fourth stanza. Bloodied and with a swollen eye from Bisping's earlier attacks, Le was forced to cover up and suffered his second knockout loss in four UFC appearances.
While retirement questions are bound to come up now when it comes to the 42-year-old Le, Bisping is probably one more big win away from putting himself back into title-shot discussion. Here is a look at what could be next for both men and the rest of the UFC Fight Night 48 competitors.
Preliminary Card Fighters
Preliminary Card Winners
|Wang Sai||Peter Sobotta|
|Alberto Mina||Colby Covington|
|Yuta Sasaki||Sergio Pettis|
|Colby Covington||Alberto Mina|
|Royston Wee||Leandro Issa|
|Milana Dudieva||Valerie Letourneau|
Preliminary Card Losers
|Danny Mitchell||None (Release)|
|Shinsho Anzai||Omari Akhmedov|
|Roland Delorme||None (Release)|
|Wang Anying||Marcio Alexandre|
|Yao Zhikui||Ryan Benoit|
|Elizabeth Phillips||Alexis Dufresne|
Matchup: Alan Omer
Jianping Yang was originally supposed to decide The Ultimate Fighter: China featherweight finals against Ning Guangyou in March. However, an injury prevented him from competing at that time, and the matchup was delayed.
On Saturday, Yang finally stepped into the Octagon opposite Guangyou. While it was a close contest, Yang landed fewer strikes, allowed more takedowns and had to defend a tight guillotine choke in the second round. A step behind Guangyou in all areas, Yang fell short on the scorecards.
Despite the loss, as a TUF runner-up, Yang is likely to get one more shot with the world's top MMA promotion. If he does, Yang could meet fellow 0-1 UFC featherweight Alan Omer.
Matchup: Jim Alers
It took longer than expected, but Guangyou finally brought the TUF: China 145-pound tournament to an end with a decision win over Yang at UFC Fight Night 48.
While Guangyou didn't exactly send a message to the featherweight contenders, he looked well-rounded in victory over Yang. Smasher appeared to be the slightly better fighter in all aspects, as he was named the winner on all three scorecards.
Now, Guangyou can begin to attempt a climb up the 145-pound ladder. It could start against Jim Alers, who is also 1-0 inside the Octagon.
Matchup: None (Release)
A contestant on TUF: Nations, Brendan O'Reilly was given another chance to prove himself on Saturday.
The Australian came up short in what was probably his last opportunity to prove he belonged on the UFC roster. Following a competitive opening round, O'Reilly was controlled by Zhang Lipeng on the ground for more than six of the final 10 minutes.
With a loss after an unsuccessful TUF showing, O'Reilly is likely to be cut loose by the UFC brass. At 27 years old, The Badger still has some time to gain momentum in smaller shows and earn his way back to the Octagon.
Matchup: Kenny Robertson
Following a controversial win over Wang Sai in the TUF: China welterweight finals, Lipeng didn't look like a fighter who would make a ton of noise in the 170-pound division. However, the Chinese welterweight looked much improved on Saturday.
While Lipeng lost the first round on one scorecard, he finished strong over the final two stanzas. With a takedown in both the second and third frames, Lipeng shut O'Reilly down on the canvas en route to a clear decision victory.
Lipeng now has two straight UFC wins and is ready to start making his ascent in the welterweight class. A bout with Kenny Robertson, who has also won back-to-back fights, would make sense for Lipeng.
Dong Hyun Kim
Matchup: Matt Brown
With four straight wins, Dong Hyun Kim was on his way toward a shot at the welterweight championship. However, a tough matchup with Tyron Woodley has put that opportunity on hold.
Kim's overhaul into a more aggressive fighter has elevated his status. However, the Korean's wild approach hurt him Saturday, as he was blasted by Woodley while attempting a spinning backfist. Unable to recover, Kim's winning streak came to an end with a knockout loss.
Now a much more entertaining fighter, Kim would be a much more intriguing matchup for Matt Brown than he was in September 2008. Kim won that UFC 88 bout via split decision, but both welterweights have come a long way since then and would benefit from a rematch.
Matchup: Demian Maia
With his win over Kim on Saturday, Woodley maintained contender status, but he has some work to do to earn a shot at the welterweight championship.
Prior to his bout with Kim, Woodley was coming off a loss to Rory MacDonald, who has earned a title shot of his own. While Woodley waits for the fighters above him to battle over a chance to challenge for the title, he'll have to keep the wins coming.
Although it wouldn't be a big step up in competition, a matchup with Demian Maia would allow Woodley to keep moving forward as the 170-pound title picture clears up.
Matchup: Mark Munoz
While Le has had some memorable moments in his MMA career, a loss to Michael Bisping pretty much closed the book on any UFC title hopes he may have had. At 42 years old and competing very infrequently, Le likely doesn't have enough left in the tank to make a title run.
That said, Le recently seems to be content with simply taking big fights. For that reason, this latest loss might not have a big impact on his decision on whether or not to continue fighting.
Le still looked like a high-level fighter in spots on Saturday. He just ran into one of the very best in the 185-pound division. Should Le decide to continue competing, he could definitely be more successful in a bout with Mark Munoz.
Moreover, Munoz would no doubt love to compete in the Philippines before calling it quits, so a retirement bout between The Filipino Wrecking Machine and Le in Asia could be a good way for both to hang up their gloves.
Matchup: Luke Rockhold
Bisping continues to respond well following losses. In his eight years on the UFC roster, the Englishman has not lost two in a row, and that continued on Saturday.
Entering UFC Fight Night 48 with a loss to Tim Kennedy, Bisping bounced back by stopping Le in the fourth round. There are still multiple fighters ahead of him in the race for a shot at the winner of the upcoming middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort, but Bisping is always under consideration as long as he's winning.
Because he's such a big name, Bisping probably isn't going to ease his way back into competition. No. 5 contender Luke Rockhold, whom Bisping called out on UFC Fight Pass following his win over the weekend, is a realistic matchup.