Last night (Weds., April 16, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Michael Bisping and Tim Kennedy put their heated rivalry to bed in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale from Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
Built up by a massive amount of trash talk from Kennedy, the Army Ranger delivered on his promise to defeat Bisping with his neutralizing (and some would say boring) style. Regardless, Kennedy got the job done over a Top 5-ranked opponent. Let's take a look back at the impressive victory.
Kennedy immediately shot for a single leg takedown, going deep to switch to a double leg. He dumped "Count" to smother Bisping on the mat, passing to the half guard and controlling the action. Bisping got back up only to get taken down again. Kennedy achieved the mount and then moved to Bisping's back to go for a rear naked choke. Bisping ate an elbow as the one-sided round came to its ugly end.
Bisping looked to find his range in the early moments of the second round, landing a left hand but eating a right from Kennedy in the process. Kennedy landed some good shots on the inside, following up with a headkick. Bisping began to pick up the pace a bit, but Kennedy thwarted him by shooting for a takedown. Bisping fought hard to stay upright, breaking free to throw a flying knee that was blocked. Bisping landed a hard looping right, pushing forward to unload with some quality hooks. "Count" was finding his rhythm, peppering his jab as the second round bell sounded.
Kennedy threw a lunging right to start the third. Bisping was staying out of range for a while, but Kennedy landed a big right hand and secured a double leg. Kennedy ground Bisping into the canvas and looking to pass his guard. He did so, even transitioning to the mount to land some clean punches. Kennedy's gritty style earned him the third round to boos from the fans.
The championship rounds began with Bisping snapping a jab. Kennedy missed a lumbering shot and sought another takedown against the fence. Bisping fought it off to land a quick right. Kennedy appeared to slow somewhat as the fighters traded shots. "Sniper" cracked Bisping with a right hand and shot for a takedown that missed once again. Kennedy unloaded two big blows that had Bisping hurt, and each fighter found a home for several hard shots. Bisping bloodied Kennedy as the close fourth round wound down.
Bisping landed two jabs but was tripped to the ground early on in the fifth. When Bisping got up, Kennedy went to "Count's" back and tripped him again. He mounted Bisping and took his back again. Bisping campaigned to have the fight stood up, and referee Yves Lavigne obliged. Bisping landed a combination ended by a high kick, but ate more right hands from Kennedy. Bisping landed a big left to end the fight.
Kennedy locked up a unanimous decision, even earning a 50-45 score on one judge's card. He was disappointed that he couldn't finish the hard-nosed Bisping, but he gained by far his biggest win nonetheless. He'll advance to another bout with a Top 10-ranked fighter, possibly even higher. There aren't a whole lot of avenues left for him after beating Bisping.
A rematch of his 2010 Strikeforce middleweight title loss to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza when he returns would make a very interesting match-up for Kennedy.
For Bisping, the loss is yet another disheartening one. He's consistently failed to rise to the occasion against top-level challengers, and Kennedy proved he is just that last night. Perhaps he benefitted from Bisping's unusually long layoff, but "Count" simply didn't have the takedown defense to snuff out "Sniper."
That's not going to bode well for him given the current state of the UFC middleweight division.
A fight against the winner of May 31's Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi bout would be a good bounce back fight for "Count." He's no doubt a middleweight mainstay, but his time is running out to legitimately make a run for the UFC title.
Tim Kennedy delivered on all his trash talk by defeating a returning Michael Bisping. While he isn't earning too many new fans with his smothering style, you can't argue with the Army veteran's success. What's next for the stifling grappler?