Michael Bisping performs at his best when he competes in United Kingdom. And today in the main event of UFC Fight Night 72 against Thales Leites inside The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, was no different.
It wasn't easy, though.
Bisping came out a bit cautious, keeping a good distance from the dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Leites drilled him with a nut shot, though, which caused an early delay in the action. On the restart, Bisping began to put together a few combinations, while Leites looked for a counter right hand that kept missing.
Bisping uncorked a few head kicks, but Leites was unfazed, stalking the Brit and looking for a home for his big right hand as he worked on his lead leg with solid kicks. With about one minute remaining, Bisping scored a takedown and landed a nice elbow, but Leites was able to reverse and take his back along the fence, which is where the round ended.
Round two got going with Bisping and Leites exchanging looping shots. Moments later Bisping would land another as the Brazilian picked his shots more sparingly. Bisping attempted an inside-leg kick and Leites drilled Bisping with a combination that sent him back-pedaling toward the cage. He did it again seconds later, perhaps dialing into Bisping's timing.
Leites landed another great leg kick, and then a huge uppercut along the cage that appeared to briefly stun Bisping. Bisping finished the round strong -- he kept pretty busy -- but Leites appeared to have more success with the quality (not quantity) of his strikes.
The third round started innocent enough with some kicks before Leites trapped Bisping along the cage and unloaded a huge right hand that buckled his knees. Bisping fired back blindly and eventually worked his way out of trouble. Bisping recovered quickly and actually turned up the pressure, clearly the more well-conditioned fighter of the pair.
It was pretty much a boxing match for the final three minutes with Leites scoring a brief takedown. Leites landed another nice uppercut with about 10 seconds remaining along the cage, which has proved to be a bad spot for him. Both men have blood trickling from their brows.
Leites came out swinging to start round four, hoping to trap Bisping along the cage again. Bisping circled out, though, and pumped his jab. Both men amped up their kicks, but Bisping get getting clipped on his way out. Nice straight hand from Bisping followed by a jab did not impress Leites, who shook his head in disapproval.
Bisping kept circling and pumping punches as Leites chased him around the Octagon, looking to land a homerun shot. It was the most uneventful round of the fight by far.
Fifth and final round and it's pretty much even ... or at least close. Knowing the circumstances, Leites came out aggressive, looking to trap him along the cage and end it. Leites landed a nice left hook, then an uppercut, that put Bisping on the move. Another right hand and a skirmish along the cage as Leites is really going for broke.
Bisping is game, though, firing back, but not with as much effect. Leites is seemingly prepared to eat one or two punches at this point just so he can land a big one. Nice combinations from Bisping with 90 seconds to go, but Leites is undeterred, stalking him around the cage trying to land something.
Leites landed a nice left hook late as Bisping countered with a spinning back kick. Very close fight -- Bisping was the busier fighter, but Leites' dramatic power shots along the cage were super effective. In the end, volume impressed two of the three judges sitting ringside who awarded "The Count" a close split decision win.
That's back-to-back wins for Bisping the first time in nearly three years, snapping Leites' eight-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak in the process.
For complete UFC Fight Night 72: "Bisping vs Leites" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.