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

Getty Image

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?