On November 4th, Michael Bisping lost his Middleweight title to George St. Pierre, as he was knocked down and submitted in the third round. Three weeks later, Bisping is returning to the octagon, replacing original headliner and former foe Anderson Silva. This is the second time in two UFC events that one half of the headliner was replaced, although Mark Hunt wasn’t removed due to a potential violation by USADA like Silva. This would be the second violation by Silva, which could result in a four-year ban and the end of his career.
Luckily enough though, a true company man and future UFC Hall-of-Famer in Bisping is stepping up to take on Kelvin Gastelum. And while Gastelum probably preferred to take on Silva due to his legendary status, in terms of rankings, this is a jackpot. Gastelum goes from taking on #8 Anderson Silva to #2 Michael Bisping. An opportunity to cut the line is here for the taking now.
Small factoid, but the last time the UFC was in China, Michael Bisping headlined against Cung Le. Bisping would defeat Le, then go on to fight Rockhold, igniting a rivalry that got him a short notice title shot. One in which he would capitalize on. Crazy!
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 122 Main Card (7 a.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum – I’ve got nothing but respect for Michael Bisping, as he’s a fighter to his core. To step in on short notice, less than a month after losing your title against a monster, is downright bold. As for the fight, it’s hard to grasp whether Bisping is 100% coming into this. He took several punches and elbows for three rounds, as well as eventually being choked unconscious. However and despite being an underdog, I think Bisping walks away the winner in this fight.
Gastelum may be faster and have more power in his hands, but he’s also simply just too small for the weight class. Bisping will have a 4′ height and reach advantage. And while Bisping is not known for his wrestling, I expect him to surprise Gastelum with some timely takedowns. Weidman laid out the blueprint and Bisping knows that. He wouldn’t of taken this fight if he didn’t think he could win. He could of enjoyed Thanksgiving with the family instead of weight cutting.
Anyways, I believe that Bisping will take down and tire Gastelum early, dragging him into the later rounds. From there, Bisping’s cardio and striking takes over en route to a decision victory.
170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Zak Ottow – While tough, Ottow just doesn’t provide enough offense to win this fight. Jingliang is a good wrestler, who happens to love a good ole fashion brawl. With a granite chin and cement in his hands, there’s a good reason why he doesn’t mind slugging it out in the pocket. So with that, I got Jingliang extending his winning streak to four via late TKO victory.
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Wang Guan – The promotional newcomer Guan might be an impressive 19-1-1, but who the hell has he beaten? Nobody… While Caceres has his flaws, there’s no way I see him faltering to this step down in completion. Caceres via submission.
170 lbs.: Alex Garcia vs. Muslim Salikhov – I’ve been complaining about the UFC’s failure to sign more of these Russian talents, especially in the upper weight classes. This is a good step, as Salikhov is a special talent who I could see becoming a contender. Salikhov is a gifted counter striker, who packs a serious punch. However, he’s been noted for several spinning back kick knockouts, which demonstrates the arsenal of striking we are dealing with here. Nothing against Garcia, but he’s a one round fighter with legit power. His explosiveness and cardio wanes as the fight goes into the later rounds and I could very well see that being the opportunity when Salikhov knocks him out.
UFC Fight Night 122 Prelims (3:45 a.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Sheymon Moraes – Moraes is a great addition to the Featherweight division, but this is a rough debut. Magomedsharipov looks to be a future contender, as his already well rounded abilities flashed in his debut against Mike Santiago. At 6’1 and with a 73′ inch reach advantage, the lanky Russian is a nightmare fight for anyone. That includes Moraes, who’s going to outmatched in the grappling and striking department. Magomedsharipov is just too well rounded and with an ever expanding arsenal of strikes on the feet, it’s only a matter of time before he puts away Moraes. So with that, I have Magomedsharipov via TKO.
170 lbs.: Bobby Nash vs. Kenan Song – All I know is debuting in the UFC on a two-fight losing streak, probably a first in the UFC. Bobby Nash also happens to be on a two-fight losing streak, but unlike Song, he’s actually UFC caliber. Nash is legit collegiate wrestler out of Michigan St. who also happens to have bricks in his hands. So with that, I expect Nash to win this one via knockout in round one.
125 lbs.: Kailin Curran vs. Xiaonan Yan – Besides Yan’s last fight in which was a no contest, her previous nine opponents combined for a 0-2 record. My skeptical eyes consider that to be a can crusher. Now, Curran has had her problems. Hell, she’s 1-5 in the UFC and lucky to still be in the promotion. However, there’s no way I can see her losing this fight. She’s a high volume striker, who just needs to improve her fight IQ. She’s her own problem and I think she realizes that in this fight. So with that, Curran via decision.
135 lbs.: Bharat Khandare vs. Yaodong Song – No clue, but I’m going with the Super Fight League veteran Khandare. Looking at his highlight clip, he looks to be a pretty good wrestler with some pop in his hands. That’s all I need to side with Khandare via TKO.
265 lbs.: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chase Sherman – In a card mixed with newcomers and unknowns, this is a breath of fresh air. Abdurakhimov looks to get back in the win column, as he was defeated by Derrick Lewis in his most recent fight. In that fight, Abdurakhimov took down Lewis at will and easily controlled him in top control. If it was a three round fight, Abdurakhimov would of won. Unfortunately, it was five rounds and his cardio eventually cost him in the fourth.
As for Sherman, the “Vanilla Gorilla” started out his UFC career rough, losing two straight fights. Most likely on the brink of being cut, Sherman turned it around with two straight victories, one in which won him a bonus for “Fight of the Night”. And now with another victory, Sherman could catapult himself into a top ten fight.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Abdurakhimov. Sherman is good striker, but his upright stance is worrisome in a fight like this. Abdurakhimov is a rugged wrestler with solid top control and I could very well see him smothering Sherman via decision.
135 lbs.: Gina Mazany vs. Yanan Wu – I’m a little concerned, as Wu debuts in the UFC on a two-fight win streak that comes against two opponents with a combined 0-4 record. I’ll pass and take Mazany who has already fought top tier talent in Juliana Pena and Sara McMann. So with that, I got Mazany winning via decision.
145 lbs.: Wuliji Buren vs. Rolando Dy – Never heard of Buren, but when looking at his record, I notice he lost to an opponent named Yuri. An opponent who only has one name and never had a professional fight previous to fighting Buren. That’s sad. So with that, I have Dy winning via TKO.
205 lbs.: Cyril Asker vs. Yaozong Hu – With only three professional fights and his best win coming over a 2-3 opponent, Hu might be biting off more than he can chew in this short notice fight. Can’t fault him though for taking this big opportunity, however I can’t see him winning it either. So with that, I got Asker winning via knockout.