Bisping rides crowd’s jeers to victory
LAS VEGAS – Michael Bisping may be challenging the likes of Josh Koscheck and Brock Lesnar as the most hated fighter in the UFC, but that did opponent Jason “Mayhem” Miller little good on Saturday night.
Bisping (23-3) used an exhausted Miller (24-8, 1 no contest) as a punching bag before referee Steve Mazzagatti finally waved it off at 3:34 of the third round in the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale” at the Palms Casino. Bisping, who is originally from Liverpool, England, heard crowd boos, loud chants of “USA” and “Bisping sucks,” while taking Miller apart.
“I don’t give a [expletive] if you boo or cheer,” Bisping said. “This sounds like a cheesy comment. But when I got into this sport, I just wanted to make enough money, I did dead-end job after dead-end job, just wanted to make enough money to go to college and get a trade. I’ve far exceeded that goal so everything’s a bonus.”
Bisping struggled in the first round, and the crowd exploded when Miller took him down and may have done enough to win the round. But Miller, who had actor Kevin James in his corner, had little movement once the second round started.
“I don’t think anyone’s cardio was an issue,” Bisping said. “It was the pace of the fight. I feel it was a fast pace. I was tired. Jason’s only been stopped once before and it was a shaky first round. I was annoyed at myself in the first round. I was blasé.
“As soon as we clinched, I knew I was more physically dominant. But he was so awkward, so unorthodox. At the end of the first I was thinking, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”
The finish came in the third round when Miller went for a desperation takedown. Bisping easily sprawled and ended up on top. He unloaded with a lot of punches and elbows, as well as knees to the body, before it was stopped.
“Jason jumped on the bandwagon that nobody likes me and that I’m not a very good fighter,” Bisping said. “He’s been quick to discredit me, saying they’ve given me hand-picked opponents. That doesn’t sit well with me, so it was nice to teach him a lesson.”
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Bisping got word officially earlier in the day that, even with a win, he was not going to be in the immediate middleweight title picture. UFC announced a Jan. 28 match on FOX in Chicago between Chael Sonnen (26-11-1) and Mark Munoz (12-2), with the winner being the next opponent for champion Anderson Silva.
Miller’s brief tenure in UFC after a six-year absence, with one fight following his stint as a “TUF” coach, may be in jeopardy. When the fight was over, UFC president Dana White questioned if he would give Miller another fight.
“Yeah, listen, I trained really hard for this fight and I’m sorry I got tired,” said Miller, who ended up being hospitalized later after the fight. “Yeah, I can’t make any excuse. For all the boos that Bisping gets, as a fighter, he deserves your applause. Give it up for him.”
The card also featured the tournament finals for Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The show featured arguably the second best final bout, after the now legendary Season 1 Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar fight.
Diego Brandao (19-7) survived being knocked down twice in the first round, and seemed on the verge of defeat when he caught Dennis Bermudez (8-3) with an armbar at 4:51 of the first round to win the featherweight final.
The fight saw Bermudez, who figured to have little chance standing, hurt Brandao early with an aggressive striking game. Bermudez got a knockdown early. However, Brandao came back and put Bermudez down with a flying knee, and followed with a German suplex. Bermudez then dropped Brandao with a hard right and landed hard punches from the top, and just as the round was ending, Brandao surprised him with an armbar.
Brandao had talked the past week about winning and using the money from his new UFC contract to buy his mother in Brazil a house.
“For me, part of my mission is over,” Brandao said. “I wanted to give a better life to my family after my dad passed away. I’m so happy to buy [my mother] a house in Brazil. She doesn’t know. I hope she doesn’t have a heart attack.”
The bantamweight final saw John Dodson (13-5) upset T.J. Dillashaw (5-1) in just 1:54. Afterwards, Dodson said he considers himself a flyweight and not a bantamweight.
The diminutive Dodson’s speed was the difference, as Dillashaw couldn’t land on him. Dodson knocked Dillashaw down with a left. Dillashaw landed with his legs spread, got right back up, and was dropped again.
After a few more punches, ref Herb Dean stopped it. The crowd booed, thinking it was stopped early, even as Dodson was doing flips all over the ring.
“I felt it was stopped early, but what can you do,” said Dillashaw, who was a three-time qualifier for the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament when he was at Cal State Fullerton. “I was going for the single leg takedown. I’m not sure I’d get it, but give me a chance to compete. I’m not saying I’d win.”
After the show, White confirmed that Zuffa and Showtime are close to a deal and Strikeforce would continue as a separate promotion, running regular shows in 2012 on the network. He wouldn’t reveal any details regarding the new deal. The contract that Zuffa inherited when purchasing the Strikeforce promotion in March, expires in February, but Showtime had the option to renew with the same terms for an additional two years.
UFC also announced the top two matches for the next FOX network special, a two-hour show from 8-10 p.m. ET on Jan. 28 from the United Center in Chicago.
Besides Sonnen vs. Munoz, which will be a three-round fight, the main event pits Rashad Evans (16-1-1) against Phil Davis (9-0) in a five-round fight. The winner will get a shot at the winner of the Dec. 10 Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida bout in Toronto for the light heavyweight title.
White also announced there would be a third feature bout, one with big name fighters that would be announced as early as Sunday.
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