Vitor Belfort put on a dominating performance in the main event (Photo by Sherdog.com).
Belfort Kicks Bisping’s Title Hopes Goodbye
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
Without a doubt, it was an exciting night in Sao Paulo for the UFC, showing a great card filled with stoppages. Only four of the 11 fights went to decision, and the headliner surely did not disappoint.
Michael “The Count” Bisping stepped into this ring ready to walk through Vitor Belfort and call out Anderson Silva for his title shot. Belfort had much different plans. Vitor stepped into the ring in phenomenal shape and ready to wreck. Belfort came ready to throw kicks, and most of his significant strikes consisted of them. Bisping was doing his best to circle out and move in and land shots, but Belfort was keeping him on his toes with the lethal intent he put behind each kick. Just as the first round was coming to a close, Belfort caught Bisping with a great high kick that shook him. Next came classic Belfort, chasing him down and delivering the fast hands that makes his boxing so deadly. Bisping barely escaped the round, only to meet that same high kick in the next round. That is when the fat lady stood up and sang The Count to sleep.
The most interesting thing to me was not Belfort coming in and stopping Bisping. You could see the high kick coming as Bisping had a low right hand. The surprising thing was Belfort on the microphone, calling out Jon Jones and asking for a rematch, also showing a severe hatred for Chael Sonnen. I understand you really do not want to be back in the ring with Silva, but I can’t see Jones being that desired either!
In the co-main event, we saw CB Dollaway take on Daniel Sarafian in what could be considered Fight Of The Night. Sarafian, who was very dominant on TUF Brazil before suffering an injury, came out very strong and displaying very powerful standup. You could see the absolute power in every shot he was throwing. Sarafian took the first round with that beautiful standup, out-striking his opponent and easily taking the round. Round two was a completely different story. Dollaway started to establish his own striking game and get into some great exchanges, seemingly getting the better of Sarafian and was able hurt him very badly at the end of the round.
Dollaway was very confident going into round three, which led to him winning more exchanges and getting a great takedown and mount. Trying to work different positions, Dollaway held top position and kept his opposition down for most of the final stage of the round. Sarafian did pull a reverse and tried his best to deliver some ending shots, but Dollaway had already taken the round and the fight. Split decision was the outcome, but the crowd was clearly thinking otherwise. I felt it was the correct call, unlike something I can’t wait to talk about.
In the two fights to open the card, we saw some great finishes. A somewhat boring first round from Gabriel Gonazaga and Ben Rothwell eventually led to a fantastic guillotine choke. Gonzaga kept Rothwell on his toes with a very crisp jab and was able to get him into the choke to force the tap in the second round.
The first fight on the card leads me to the real controversy of the night, Dan Miragliotta. This may have been his worst performance a referee had tonight and possibly his last according to UFC President Dana White.
Earlier in the show, a clearly unjust call by Miragliotta tarnished a fight on the undercard. We see what should have been a dominant performance by Yuri Alcantara result in a no contest. Following a good start from Alcantara, he got Pedro Nobre to the ground and was able to take his back, getting his hooks in and ready to lay down the heat. All shots appeared to be clear, but not to Miragliotta, who pauses the action to say they were all blows to the back of the head. None appeared that way on camera, but, once the ruling is made, it sticks and results in a no contest when clearly it should have been a win for Alcantara.
However, Miragliotta was still officiating the first fight of the live card, which featured lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedon and Thiago Tavares. Tavares is a seasoned vet and has taken on a good bit of noteworthy fighters in the division. That clearly did not matter to Nurmagomedon. He came out with very crisp striking, showing his vast Sambo experience. A leaping uppercut then caught Tavares and sent him to the ground. Now, here we run into some brutal ground shots and elbows. 17 unanswered shots then came, 11 of them being some nasty elbows that clearly injured Tavares, and this fight should have been called a lot earlier than it was. I was literally off my chair screaming at the TV in some hope that Miragliotta would get the message more that he needed to end this fight. It is screw-ups like this that can hurt the sport. You cannot have these kind of bad judgments. Referees and judges need to get it together so this sport does not fall.
All in all, it was a very fantastic card, and one that brought some exciting action to the viewers. Bisping will head back to the drawing boards. I imagine he will possibly draw one of the incoming StrikeForce fighters for his next fight, possibly Luke Rockhold to see if he should be next for Silva. If not Rockhold, I could see Chris Weidman taking him on, which is good fight to validate Weidman a bit more as a contender in that division. Belfort is looking to make the move back to 205 pounds to take on Bones Jones, so I expect to see him leave the middleweight division behind once more. Fear not though, MMA fans. January is not done with us yet. On the 26th, we head to FOX for Flyweight Title action!