The Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China was home to a great night/morning of fights, with four (T)KOs, four submissions and four decisions, including one split-decision. The Chinese fighters on the card ended up going 5-3 in their bouts, and late replacement Michael Bisping was knocked out in the first round by Kelvin Gastelum in a contest that capped an outstanding event full of action from top to bottom.
Performances of the Night:
China’s Song Yadong put on a blazing performance against Bharat Khandare, mixing up hard punches and kicks from the word go and landing on offense and when countering. His overwhelming pressure opened Khandare up for an overhand right and Yadong pounced on his fallen opponent and snatched up a front choke for the submission victory at just 4:16 of the very first round, earning himself a cool $50,000 bonus.
Zabit Magomedsharipov came into tonight’s event as the biggest favorite on the card and an absolutely dominant performance proved that confidence to be well-founded. The Dagestani featherweight demonstrated he wasn’t just a striker by shutting down Sheymon Moraes’ ground game completely, avoiding several submission attempts and controlling the fight in every phase. The 6’1 prospect locked in an anaconda choke in the closing seconds of the third round and received $50K in bonus cash for his effort.
Li Jingliang received a hero’s reception in the Mercedes Benz Arena, and the cheers of the crowd galvanized the moderate favorite into a brutal destruction of Zak Ottow. What looked like an evenly matched fight on paper ended up being a blowout, as Jingliang hurt Ottow early with a right hand and didn’t let up for a single second, forcing the referee to intervene and the UFC to give out another 50 G’s of bonus money. JANGALANG!
Kelvin Gastelum was a bigger favorite for this fight against Michael Bisping than pound-for-pound great Georges St. Pierre was in their UFC 217 bout. While Gastelum may not have the resume of GSP or Bisping, he proved he more than deserved his favorite status with powerful victory over the former middleweight kingpin. After a brief feeling out period the former welterweight found his range and landed a brutal left-right combo that dropped The Count for the count, and the referee stepped in to save the unconscious Englishman from any more damage.
Bisping was incredibly gracious in defeat, praising Gastelum and admitting age was catching up to him. Then, in true “Count” fashion, he added a generous dash of salt to his praise with this gem, “Kelvin is a great guy. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a bigger pile of shit than him to get rid of me.” As well as gaining the respect of a future hall-of-famer, Gastelum gained an extra $50,000 for delivering an explosive end to Bisping’s night.
Fight of the Night: None, Nada, Zilch, Zero (despite Yan Xiaonan vs. Kailan Curran warranting the honor)