KELVIN GASTELUM staked his claim for a future shot at UFC middleweight gold, as he flattened former champion Michael Bisping inside the first round at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, the UFC’s first card in mainland China.
Bisping was a late replacement for Anderson Silva, who was flagged by USADA for the second time, and was stepping into the Octagon just 21 days after he was choked out by Georges St-Pierre at Madison Square Garden in New York.
When Bisping took the fight concerns were raised, but the UFC carried on with the Manchester man looking to exorcise some demons, as he looks towards a retirement fight in London on March 17th next year.
Unfortunately for “The Count” it was not to be as a huge left hand separated his from his senses and put him flat on his back to give Gastelum a huge win and announce himself as a real contender in the middleweight division.
Gastelum had pressed forward from the start of the fight working Bisping’s body with some vicious kicks. But Bisping, slightly subdued during fight week, always remains a threat and picked off Gastelum with some nice counters.
However a rapid jab, followed by a monstrous left hand put Bisping down and vulnerable to more punches which Gastelum landed on his stricken opponent until referee Marc Goddard jumped in and saved Bisping from more punishment with just 2:30 gone in the fight.
Gastelum said after the fight: “Man, this is the biggest win in my career. I’m gonna try not to get emotional. I have a huge amount of respect for Bisping. That’s something we trained a lot. He throws a mean left hook and an awesome straight right, so that’s something we worked on a lot.”
Gastelum could well find himself in the opposite corner to Interim champion Robert Whittaker, who is rumoured to be headlining the February 10 card in Perth in his home country of Australia. As for Bisping he still plans on fighting once more in his illustrious career.
On the undercard Li Jingliang dominated Zak Ottow, stopping him in the first round of their welterweight contest, whilst the good luck continued for the home crowd as Wang Guan took home a split decision victory over Alex Caceres, 29-28 twice and 28-29 on the cards.
Welterweight Alex Garcia picked up a huge submission victory over Muslim Salikhov, “The King of Kung Fu”, who was making his UFC debut, stopping the fight in the second with a rear-naked choke.
On the preliminary card, Zabit Magomedsharipov once again dazzled as he stole the show with a phenomenal performance and subsequent submission victory in the third round by anaconda choke over Sheymon Moraes. It won’t be long before he gatecrashes the top 15 in the featherweight division.
Welterweight Song Kenan was eager to impress his home crowd and he didn’t hang around, stopping Bobby Nash in 15 seconds, whilst Yan Xiaonan picked up a unanimous decision, 29-28 twice and 30-27, over Kailin Curran in a women’s strawweight contest.
Song Yadong was victorious on his UFC debut, submitting Bharat Kandare in the first round by way of a front choke, whilst Shamil Abdurakhimov smashed popular heavyweight Chase Sherman in the first round, knocking him out inside 90 seconds.
Gina Mazany was a dominant points winner over Wu Yanan, 30-27 on all three cards in a women’s bantamweight fight, whilst Rolando Dy got the better of Wuliji Buren in a catchweight fight at 148lbs also by unanimous decision, 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Finally, French heavyweight Cyril Asker opened the card with a rear-naked choke submission win over Hu Yaozong in the second round.