UFC Fight Night 122: The Real Winners and Losers from Bisping vs. Gastelum
The UFC made its first trip to mainland China as it took over Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping was seeking to rid himself of the taste of defeat following UFC 217's showing against Georges St-Pierre, but instead, he took a worse loss at the fist of Kelvin Gastelum. He got viciously knocked out in the first round.
Gastelum made a statement and moved right back into the hunt at middleweight.
The storied career of the Brit seems to be drawing to a close, but MMA waits for no fighter. When one fighter is on his way out there are a handful of wild dogs fighting in the alley for any piece of leftover Thanksgiving food.
The other bouts were not much of note, but the athletes still brought their A-game. The 12-fight card saw seven other finishes along with Gastelum's first-round KO. It was an exciting evening from start-to-finish.
Who came out as the real winners and losers as the UFC begins to close of the year? Well, let's answer that question.
Full card results from UFC Fight Night 122 will be at the end.
Loser: The UFC
Michael Bisping has always been a "company guy," but there was no reason to put him against Kelvin Gastelum so soon after the loss at UFC 217.
It wasn’t as if Bisping went without damage against Georges St-Pierre. No, he got hurt. To allow him to come back against a fighter with massive power and a perfect style to use that power against Bisping is awful. Just plain awful.
A lot of times it is discussed how fighters need to be protected from themselves. This was another case of that. Bisping is a warrior and would never back away from a challenge. The UFC had an obligation to protect him from himself, but they decided to usher him into a dangerous situation. And he paid the price.
Bisping will likely get one more fight, in London, before hanging up his gloves. This was an unnecessary beating he took.
Winner: Kelvin Gastelum
Well, as unfortunate as the circumstances were entering the fight, no one can deny Gastelum was a big winner.
Against Anderson Silva, Gastelum would have picked up a win against a legend. But a legend without any real significance in the division. The same cannot be said for a former champion who just lost his belt. Gastelum was able to knock out a top-three ranked opponent and jump back into the title talk at 185 pounds.
It couldn’t have been a better scenario for Gastelum. He matched up well against Bisping and got the KO. A quick KO. If anything opens up, Gastelum can return to the cage in peak form. The loss to Chris Weidman is now but a distant memory even though it happened not that long ago.
Silva falling out of this event and being replaced by Bisping was a bad look for the UFC, but a perfect scenario for Gastelum. He took advantage.
Winner: Li Jingliang
The flag bearer for Chinese MMA picked up a signature victory with a first-round TKO over Zak Ottow.
Chinese MMA has been oft-criticized, but it has been Jingliang who has provided some hope for its future due to his UFC success. He kept that success going. The TKO performance gave him his fourth-straight victory and third by knockout.
To make matters better, Jingliang exited the cage after the referee stopped the fight to celebrate with his young daughter. A fan-favorite kind of moment to tug on the heartstrings of us all.
Jingliang’s victory is important for China. The live crowd exploded, and it will likely be a moment to remember for everyone in the nation who cares about the sport. Jingliang likely won’t be a title contender, but history will remember what he meant to Chinese MMA for years to come.
Loser: Referee Steve Perceval
Wang Guan and Alex Caceres went to battle on the main card, and Steve Perceval was the referee for the bout.
Caceres took several shots from Guan, but he recovered well. That is, until the end of the round.
Guan drilled Caceres and nearly had the finish. Perceval gave Caceres time, and the horn sounded for the end of the round.
Here is where Perceval became a real loser. Caceres attempted to stand, stumbled and Perceval helped him to the corner. And then allowed him to continue to fight. If you cannot make it to your corner under your own power, the fight should be over, and Perceval is at fault for allowing to Caceres to continue to fight.
Caceres regained his bearings and continued to fight, but that is not a justification for allowing the fight to continue at the end of the first round. It could have turned out much worse. Caceres took more unnecessary punishment, and Guan was robbed of a bonus check for a first-round finish.
Winner: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Welcome to the featherweight title discussion, Mr. Magomedsharipov.
He’s not in a position to challenge for the crown yet, but after another thorough performance inside the Octagon, he has put himself in the discussion of true contenders.
In the post-fight interview in the cage, Magomedsharipov called out Yair Rodriguez. It would be a stellar fight and shows Magomedsharipov understands what the victory in Shanghai did for him in the division. The UFC has another exciting star on their hands.
The next step for Magomedsharipov is to get off prelims of UFC Fight Pass fight cards. That should be almost assured after the submission victory. He will get a step-up in competition for certain, and it should be against a contender.
Winners: Song Yadong and Song Kenan
Chinese fighters got off to an 0-3 start in Shanghai, but Song Yadong and Song Kenan helped the home nation get back on track with two sensational performances.
Song Yadong, making his UFC debut at just 19 years old, got rid of Bharat Kandare in just four minutes and 16 seconds with a front choke. Yadong showcased the growth of Chinese MMA, which has lagged behind other nations, and gave the nation a new young hope.
Kenan made his UFC debut on a two-fight losing skid. It’s not normal for the UFC to bring in unknown fighters off losses, but being from China, he got a boost from the location of the card. He made the most of it with a 15-second TKO over Bobby Nash.
Who knows where their careers will go from here, but they made everyone notice. That’s a big win for Chinese MMA.
Loser: Chase Sherman
Chase Sherman is great at using Twitter to engage MMA fans, but he lost the engagement that mattered on Saturday.
Shamil Abdurakhimov caught Sherman early and won by KO in just 84 seconds.
The loss moved Sherman to 2-3 in the UFC.
More fighters should use social media to grow their own brand, but when you take a swift L like Sherman, it loses its effect. Sherman could have made a statement and gotten a third straight victory, but instead he took one of the worst losses in Shanghai.
Losers: Fans Who Watched the Entire Card
I’m throwing myself in this mix. We’re losers in the nerdiest sense of the word.
Us shameless fight fans, woke up or stayed up for a 3:45 a.m. ET start time of a questionable fight card from the UFC. If that doesn’t make us all losers, I don’t know what does.
The card, on paper, was lacking outside of the main event. There wasn’t a second fight that called for anyone to get up prior to the main event let alone the main card. Yet, several of us set our alarms for this event.
We’re nerds. Accept it.
UFC Fight Night 122 Full Card Results
- Kelvin Gastelum def. Michael Bisping by KO at 2:30 of the first round
- Li Jingliang def. Zak Ottow by TKO at 2:57 of the first round
- Wang Guan def. Alex Caceres by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Alex Garcia def. Muslim Salikhov via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:22 of the second round
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
- Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Sheymon Moraes via submission (anaconda choke) at 4:30 of the third round
- Song Kenan def. Bobby Nash by TKO at 0:15 of the first round
- Yan Xiaonan def. Kailin Curran by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Song Yadong def. Bharat Kandare via submission (front choke) at 4:16 of the first round
- Shamil Abdurakhimov def. Chase Sherman by KO at 1:24 of the first round
- Gina Mazany def. Wu Yanan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Rolando Dy def. Wuliji Buren by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
- Cyril Asker def. Hu Yaozong via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:33 of the second round