Michael Bisping recovered from an early shot to dominate and outscore Yoshihiro Akiyama over three rounds and took home a unanimous decision, winning 30-27 on all three cards.
Bisping worked to rev up the crowd deflated from seeing countryman Dan Hardy get knocked out moments earlier. Akiyama made his inimitable entrance to opera music.
The smaller Akiyama took center cage and immediately scored with a hard right hand to Bisping's face. Bisping survived and fired front kicks to drive Akiyama back. Akiyama scored with a left hook. Bisping fired back with a leg kick as a composed Akiyama looked for openings. Bisping shot in and then landed a punch to the body. Then he forced a take down but Akiyama got right back up. Bisping landed a kick on the step up. Akiyama claimed a low blow but Ref Marc Goddard said continue. Akiyama quickly landed his own low blow again with no break. Bisping began to land telling shots. Bisping came in firing combinations and high kicks. Akiyama answered with an inside leg kick then a high kick of his own. Akiyama with a spinning back fist. Bisping coming forward behind combinations, dodged a right uppercut. Bisping landed a flying knee to end the round. Very close action packed round.
Round 2 saw Akiyama score first with a combo. Bisping countered with a left. Akiyama waded in behind more right hands. Bisping claimed an eye poke and got only a very short break. Ref Goddard tolerates no foolishness. Akiyama with body punches. Bisping answered with a high kick and a punch. Akiyama evaded a series of Bisping punches. Bisping landed a hard right. Then shot in, got stuffed and landed a punch. Bisping began to land with both hands. Akiyama answered with a hard right. They traded jabs. Akiyama landed a high kick followed by a right hand. Bisping with a one two and attempted his own spinning back fist. Body kick from the Brit. Akiyama came forward behind punches and a body kick. Akiyama landed a hard right hand. Bisping landed a flurry including a side kick. Bisping landed a one-two but paid when Akiyama hurt him with a hard right hand. The round ended with Akiyama forcing Bisping back and landing hard punches.
Bisping worked to pump up the crowd before the final round. He landed first with a jab and evaded Akyama's wild swings. But Akiyama nailed him with a right. Bisping answered with jabs and then rocked Akiyama with a head kick. Bisping began to tee off with rights and high kicks that visibly stunned Akiyama. Bisping hurt him with a one two. Then he landed with jabs before dropping Akiyama with a hard kick to the groin. Akiyama rolled about on the floor and took minutes before he returned to his feet. They bowed before returning to action. Akiyama caught a leg and landed a hard body kick. He followed up with a flurry of punches but Bisping evaded and answered with sharp straights. Bisping scored with the 1-2 three straight times. Then he teed off on the judoka with flurries of straight punches. Akiyama had no answer for Bisping's style as time ticked away. Akiyama winged wild punches but missed and ate a series of straights from the Brit. Bisping found a home for his left before Akiyama surged forward with a flurry of punches.
The two very popular middleweight fighters entered UFC 120 looking for a win to put them back on the contender track for Anderson Silva's UFC title.
Yoshihiro Akiyama was looking for redemption after losing to Chris Leben by a last second submission at UFC 116.