Thanks largely to the Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping main event, almost every one of the 16,000+ crowd went home satisfied last night from UFC Fight Night 84. I say it all the time, but the UFC fans in Europe really do appreciate it every time the UFC comes to town. It wasn’t on a Dublin level of intensity but the fans certainly made some noise when Bisping was announced as the winner of that epic main event.
Not all of the fights were entertaining, but we can’t have everything. What I can say is that thirteen fights are far too much for one night. From start to finish the whole show took six-hours, a long time for anyone to stay focused. That’s four consecutive soccer matches or two consecutive NFL games. We all know the UFC have too many fighters on their roster and it isn’t necessary. Five prelim fights and five main card fights would be far more suitable as an option going forward.
David Teymur started the night off with a very good win over fellow TUF alumni, Martin Svensson. Both Swedes fought in a half full arena and the younger Teymur caused a minor upset with a fully deserved second round win. After a sweet uppercut, precise left kick to the head, and ground strikes, Teymur can count himself unfortunate that he didn’t get a bonus, but one man who did get one was Teemu Packalen. The Finn hit Thibault Gouti with a flush uppercut before finishing things off via rear-naked choke to win inside 25 seconds. Gouti was a late replacement so I’m sure he’ll get at least one more chance to shine.
After a great start with two quick finishes, it was left to the heavyweights to spoil things. I knew the fight would be a stinker if it went past the first round. After a busy start, debutant Jarjis Danho slowed down considerably, and Daniel Omielanczuk took control before the fight was stopped. Omielanczuk caught Danho with a punch down below and after a delay the doctor decided to stop the fight. It went to the scorecards, and Omielanczuk had done enough to earn a technical decision win.
Norman Parke did what Norman Parke normally does. He had a real chance to beat a quality opponent but it always looks like he can’t get past third-gear. Khabilov soon got into a groove to earn a decision victory after losses to Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins. Parke will continue to win enough fights to not get cut but he’s not exciting to watch and has a bit of a reputation as a slugger. Krzysztof Jotko beat Brad Scott by decision but I’d rather not go into detail because I’m still trying to erase the fight from my memory. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen but it wasn’t one to remember either.
After a full fight camp and time spent in Canada with Tristar, Arnold Allen put in a good performance that almost turned into a TKO finish. He was beaten by the bell but the decision victory was never in doubt. I’m not convinced he can go on to be a ranked contender, but he’s a young lad full of confidence and is 2-0 since he joined the organization last year. Scott Askham’s walk off finish over Chris Dempsey was a joy to watch. The punch and head kick combination was lethal. Dempsey sensibly kept Askham in the clinch early on but as soon as they separated, it didn’t take the Englishman long to get the bonus winning finish.
Davey Grant was up next, and after a twenty-seven-month absence he earned a solid win in an entertaining fight with Marlon Vera. The Ecuadorian proved to be a tough man to finish, and he took a fair amount of damage, but Grant didn’t quite have enough in the tank to get a decision. By this time of the night, the fighters were literally being frog marched to the Octagon to get started. The 9pm GMT main card start time was approaching because five of the first eight fights went to a decision (thirteen is too many!). The headline fight of the prelim card matched up Makwan Amirkhani and Mike Wilkinson. A few tweets was supposed to make this a rivalry, but I find it hard to get excited when it all seems fabricated. It wasn’t a bad fight by any stretch of the imagination but it wasn’t a classic. Amirkhani was much better in the many ground exchanges and he deserved the win that now takes him to 3-0 in the UFC.
Main Card Recap
After the first short break in what seems like a lifetime, the first fight on the main card was the one I thought would be Fight of the Night. Local boy Brad Pickett and Francisco Rivera both like to engage and it had all the hallmarks of a potential classic. It was very good, but it wasn’t a classic. I personally felt that Rivera did enough to win (I had it 29-28) but two of the judges gave the same score in favor of Pickett. It wasn’t a robbery and it was soon forgotten after listening to Pickett’s emotional post-fight speech when he announced he would have probably retired had he lost.
Tom Breese was the biggest favorite on the card, and was expected to demolish Keita Nakamura in rapid fashion. The pressure may have got to him because it was a horrible performance, and he struggled to earn his decision win. Breese had won two straight in impressive fashion before last night, but he looked ordinary. Nakamura was there for the taking. Breese got the win though, so all is not lost. It’s all about learning from experiences, and hopefully his next performance will see him get back to the level I know he is capable of.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Thales Leites was the biggest disappointment of the night. Unlike the fans in attendance, I found it hard to criticize Mousasi. He was winning the fight and there was no reason for him to do something stupid. The crowd didn’t like the tempo but at the end of the day a win is a win. I enjoy watching Mousasi fight and his left jab is one of the very best. I still wouldn’t be against seeing Bisping vs. Mousasi at some time in the near future.
Thank god for this fight because if it had ended up a dud the fans would have gone home very disappointed. I personally admire and respect both guys; I got into the sport thanks to Bisping, and Silva mesmerized me every time I watched him fight (unless it was against Demian Maia). The early stages were tentative and Silva was up to his old tricks like he’d never been away. I expected the onslaught when the time was right, waited and waited but it didn’t really happen. Bisping executed the perfect game plan, he was patient and precise. He even almost finished Silva but didn’t quite have the power to do so.
The end of the third round was as confusing as it gets, and I actually thought Silva had won. Guys aren’t good at multi-tasking so trying to tweet, watch the fight, and the scoreboard left me with a confused look. I wasn’t the only one though. Most of the crowd thought it was over and there was a look of confusion until we saw what was happening on the screen. It was a slick flying knee and the only time of the fight when Bisping lost concentration when trying to communicate with Herb Dean over a lost mouth piece.
I could have easily watched them fight all night. I personally had Bisping winning the fight 48-47 but I know others who thought Silva won by the same score. Silva is still a spectacle but he’s lost his reaction speed and a split second of pace. He’s still incredibly entertaining to watch but he’s nearing retirement and can only have a fight or two left in him. Bisping on the other hand had the result of his life. It won’t earn him a title shot but last night at the O2 was the defining moment of his career. He did himself proud, and even if he never fights again, he can always say he legitimately beat the greatest of all time. It may not have been the Anderson Silva of old, but he was still Anderson Silva. The fans went home ecstatic and privileged that they got to witness that fight live in person.
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