UFC Fight Night, Bisping Vs. Gastelum: Cheers And Jeers From Shanghai

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The UFC came to Shanghai this weekend, for a UFC Fight Pass fight card live bright and early (or whenever you decided to watch it, assuming you had a Fight Pass subscription). Here were our highlights and lowlights.

Cheers: Michael Bisping, for allowing us to hate him even in defeat

Not only did The Count save this card’s headliner, stepping in on three weeks notice after Anderson Silva was pulled following Silva’s second dirty drug test (more Thai sex drugs? time will tell!), he also managed to remain a heel, even while getting brutally KO’d. See, the thing about heels is that they’re only fun to root against while they’re winning. I screamed myself hoarse watching Bisping lose to GSP, partly because Michael Bisping is such a perfect English prick, but mostly because I assumed he’d win. If he’d seemed like an underdog it wouldn’t have had quite the same charm. A bully getting socked in the eye is great, a bully getting piled on is just sad.

So when Bisping whiffed on a right hand that Gastelum dodged like it was happening in slow motion and Gastelum turned him into a bobble head doll with a counter left, I fully expected Bisping to go from hated English prick to inspirational old underdog in defeat. I’ve seen it happen before. There was a time I hated Phil Baroni. Now all I want is for him to find a steady job and happiness. Would I… eventually have to feel that way about Michael “Your Dad’s Obnoxious Friend” Bisping? A nauseating thought.

Then there was the post-fight interview. Jon Anik asked Bisping if he was considering retirement. “Kelvin is a great guy,” Bisping began. “Unfortunately it’s going to take a bigger pile of shit than him to get rid of me.”

Calling the guy who just beat you a pile of shit in some malapropic attempt at a dadism? That’s the Bisping we know and hate, the guy who manages to seem like the blowhard at the end of the bar who never accomplished anything, even when he’s accomplished so much. Here I was worried he’d become a canny veteran, an underdog with a big heart, the older guy you hope teaches the youngins a lesson. Now I’ll be happy to watch him get beat at least two or three more times. I genuinely appreciate him for this. He’s impervious to your pity. It’s no wonder the UFC loves him.

Jeers: The UFC, for letting Bisping fight on three weeks notice.

Look, I get it. It sucks losing the only name fighter on a card three weeks out (how are these guys so bad at drug tests?), and when another name guy agrees to step up and save it, it’s hard to turn him down. “Watch Bisping get beat up again” is an easy sell. But, uh… who’s the athletic commission in charge here? Don’t these guys usually need a 3-6 month suspension after sustaining head trauma? Didn’t you just pull Mark Hunt from a card supposedly over CTE concerns?

Bisping’s two brutal losses in three weeks was, as they say, a bad look. If Bisping’s life ever goes the way of Mayhem Miller’s you know the UFC will be mentioned every time he gets in trouble. Come on, UFC, don’t you dare suck the fun out of watching Michael Bisping get knocked out.

Cheers: Dagestanis Shamil Abdurakhimov and Zabit Magomedsharipov.

It seems like Dagestani fighters all have nearly identical names and faces and are all equally badass. Are they all siblings? Zabit Magomedsharipov is a nice twist, because he looks like the average Dagestani fighter, only stretched to lanky proportions and wearing a Beatles wig. Still badass though. He beat a very game Sheymon Moraes with a nice Anaconda choke (rolling towards the side opposite the trapped arm rather than toward the trapped arm side, a neat trick, for the other jiu-jitsu dorks out there), a nice twist on the Dagestani standard. There’s nothing worse than watching a fighter with a slick submission game and no takedowns, or a fighter with great takedowns and no submission game. So watching the rare guy with both is extremely refreshing. Abdurakhimov, meanwhile, TKO’d Chase Sherman after Chase Sherman said he “fights like a girl,” which feels like Dagestani standard. Was it an early stoppage? Maybe a little.

Jeers: Alex Garcia, for ruining a Dagestani sweep.

It would’ve been a nice capper on Dagestan’s evening if Muslim “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov had finished off the evening with a clean sweep for Dagestan. I mean who doesn’t want to root for a guy nicknamed “King of Kung Fu?” Unfortunately it was not to be, as Garcia took out Salikhov in round two with a “rear naked choke.” Actually his arm wasn’t under the chin so it wasn’t really a “choke” at all. And Salikhov’s head wasn’t turned, so it wasn’t really a neck crank either. Let’s start calling this what it is: a facelock. Sounds badass anyway, right? Facelock. Winner via facelock.

Cheers: Dominican and non-native English speaker Alex Garcia, for his post-fight interview.

“This guy is a legend in kung fu… world. Nobody know much him about him in UFC but he… this guy have over 200 fights on the tae kwon do… and… some fight and shit. [After the Chinese translator finishes translating] …Sorry for my swearing.”

Best post-fight interview this year? I say yes. No need for an apology, Alex, being adorably foreign means never having to say you’re sorry. We can’t keep track of this tae kwon do shit either.

Cheers: Most of China’s home-grown fighters.

Despite being largely well-known and mostly underdogs, Chinese-born fighters Li Jingliang, Wang Guan, Kenan Song, Yan Ziaonan, and Yadong Song all won their fights, Li, Wang, and Yan displaying thunderous right hands in the process. Wu Lijiburen also lost a close (and questionable) decision to Rolando Dy.

Jeers: Referee Steve Perceval, for letting Alex Caceres continue after Wang Guan knocked him senseless at the end of round one.

Guan caught Caceres with a short left hook coming in that dropped Caceres, and the fight was probably about to be stopped when the bell sounded while Guan was bouncing Caceres’ head off the canvas with hammer fists (luckily Caceres’ afro cushioned his brain a bit — that’s a veteran move). Caceres stood up wobbly and Perceval was clearly trying to see if Caceres could walk on his own when Caceres’ corner men grabbed him and sat him on the stool, giving Caceres a chance to recover before Perceval and the doctor could evaluate him again. Tough circumstances, but still, if a guy can barely stand because of head trauma, the fight is over.

Cheers: Alex Caceres, for coming back to win the last round after getting knocked silly.

Caceres saved Perceval’s ass, winning the last round and recovering from his mauling enough to justify Perceval’s decision to let it continue. Sometimes things just work out.

Jeers: Judges Christopher Shen and Paul Sutherland, scoring the fight 29-28 Wang Guan.

Double Jeers: Judge Kon Papaioannou, scoring the fight 29-28 Caceres.

I asked this same question after the Bisping-Anderson Silva fight, but if a fighter gets saved by the bell and can barely make it to his stool at the end because he’s so rocked, HOW THE HELL IS THAT NOT A 10-8 ROUND? Let alone a 10-7? If a guy almost dying at the end of a round isn’t worth a 10-8, what the hell is? Not a single judge scored round one a 10-8? How is this possible? The 10-point must system is screwy as it is, but these judges are rendering it nearly meaningless with their idiotic applications of it.