After getting rocked by a solid right hand early in the first round of his main event clash with Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120 on Saturday, Michael "The Count" Bisping quickly recovered; turning the tables on his Japanese opponent for the duration of the bout. Once the UK fighter regained his senses, he unleashed an exceedingly energetic striking display that overwhelmed Akiyama for two and half rounds.
Joe Rogan, UFC announcer, was spot on in his criticism of Akiyama. After hurting Bisping badly early in that first round, Akiyama was focused on replicating the devastating strike rather than administering a more logical game plan. Akiyama, a former K-1 and DREAM fighter, spent the bulk of the fight with right hand cocked, hoping for that fight ending shot. With little or no footwork and a one-dimensional strategy being displayed by his opponent, Bisping was allowed to easily pick his shots. In the end, The Count was awarded the decision victory in front of the home fans in London for his efforts. The bout won Fight of the Night honors.
Bisping, a Manchester, England, native, remains perfect when fighting in his home country. The Englishman is on a winning streak for the first time since 2008. He’s been ranked in the upper teens in most fighter rankings, but this win could put him among the top ten. One more win for Bisping may place him into title contention.
UFC 120 set a record for a European UFC event. Over 17,000 fans packed the arena, eager to cheer on all eight English fighters that made the 10-bout fight card. For the record, only three of those British fighters came away with wins.
Co-main Event: Dan Hardy vs. Carlos Condit
It took Condit a little less than one full round to capitalize on his co-main event status. Although the Albuquerque native was fighting in front of his opponent’s home fans, Condit, who is a talented grappler, went toe-to-toe with Hardy.
Notwithstanding the fact that the UK fighter typically does his best work on the feet, the 26-year-old Condit was surprisingly winning the first round with timely punches and kicks, keeping Hardy’s heavy hands at bay. Despite the effectiveness of Condit’s strikes, none of them were equivalent to the power that he summoned for his fight-ending left hook, which folded the former welterweight title contender to the canvas. After a couple of more punches while Hardy was on the ground, the referee ended the bout, awarding Condit the TKO victory.
Now sporting two losses in a row for the first time since 2006, Hardy has relinquished all the steam that his prior seven-fight win streak had built up. Although the Nottingham native fought George St. Pierre for the welterweight title last March, another shot at the strap is years away.
Condit, on the other hand, is quietly making his presence known in the welterweight division. Already a former 170-pound champ in the WEC, Condit could be one win away from earning that same belt in the UFC. Expect him to take on either Jake Shields or Martin Kampmann next. Both fighters have decision victories over him, which Condit would surely like to avenge.
Main Event - Michael Bisping def. Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision
Co-main Event - Carlos Condit def. Dan Hardy via KO (punch) - Round 1, 4:27
Mike Pyle def. John Hathaway via unanimous decision
Travis Browne vs. Cheick Kongo declared a draw
Claude Patrick def. James Wilks via unanimous decision
Alexander Gustafsson def. Cyrille Diabate via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 2:41
Rob Broughton def. Vinicius Quieroz via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 3, 1:43
Paul Sass def. Mark Holst via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 4:45
Spencer Fisher def. Kurt Warburton via unanimous decision
Fabio Maldonado def. James McSweeney via TKO (punches) - Round 3, 0:48