Cung Le was dragged behind the woodshed by Michael Bisping. | Photo: Mitch Viquez/Zuffa/UFC/Getty
Extensive damage to Cung Le’s face told a tale of one-sided domination.
Michael Bisping stopped the former Strikeforce champion with a fourth-round knee strike and follow-up punches in the UFC Fight Night “Bisping vs. Le” main event on Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China. Le succumbed to the blows 57 seconds into round four, but the punishment he absorbed in the 15-plus minutes leading up to the stoppage was the story.
Bisping chewed up the Vietnamese sanshou stylist with high-volume, efficient punching combinations to the head and body, mixing in well-disguised kicks and knees. By the time the second round was complete, Le could barely see out of his right eye -- the grotesque swelling a product of his encounter with a left jab from “The Count.” The situation only deteriorated from there, as Bisping reaffirmed his status in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight division and raised further questions about whether or not the 42-year-old Le can maintain a position of relevance on the UFC roster.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Bisping vs. Le,” here are six matchups that ought to be considered:
Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold: Bisping’s 15 wins inside the Octagon tie him for sixth on the UFC’s all-time list, trailing only Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. Yet, he has never fought for a title. Now 35, Bisping appears to be positioning himself for one final run at 185-pound gold. He has been at odds with Rockhold for some time. An American Kickboxing Academy export and one of the few fighters who can match or exceed Bisping in the conditioning department, Rockhold has won 11 of his past 12 bouts and delivered nine first-round finishes in the process.
Tyron Woodley vs. Matt Brown: Woodley followed a forgettable performance against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174 with a 61-second technical knockout on the surging Dong Hyun Kim. The American Top Team standout countered a spinning elbow from Kim with a blistering counter right hand before trailing the fallen South Korean judoka to the canvas and finishing it there. Despite his considerable abilities, Woodley continues to run hot and cold, mixing losses to MacDonald and Jake Shields with wins over Kim, Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck and Jay Hieron. Brown saw his seven-fight winning streak end in a decision loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC on Fox 12 in July.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Jake Ellenberger: Momentum can be a tricky thing in prizefighting, as Kim discovered. On a four-fight winning streak that included spectacular finishes against Erick Silva and John Hathaway, the 32-year-old “Stun Gun” ran into a counter right from the aforementioned Woodley and met his end soon after. With that said, Kim did nothing in defeat to diminish his standing in the welterweight division, where he remains a difficult proposition for virtually any would-be contender. After going 8-1 from January 2010 to March 2013, Ellenberger has hit the skids of late. The 29-year-old Reign MMA export has dropped consecutive bouts to Lawler and MacDonald.
Yuta Sasaki vs. Chris Beal-Dustin Kimura winner: Sasaki was sensational in his promotional debut. The onetime Shooto Pacific Rim champion extended his career-best winning streak to eight fights with his first-round submission against Canadian judoka Roland Delorme. The encounter lasted all of 66 seconds. Sasaki, 24, has finished his last six foes, five of them inside one round, and looks like a potential player at 135 pounds. The undefeated Beal and the twice-beaten Kimura will do battle at a UFC Fight Night event on Sept. 5 in a clash between two more promising bantamweights.
Colby Covington vs. Cathal Pendred-Gasan Umalatov winner: Yet another blue-chip prospect spawned by the American Top Team powerhouse in Coconut Creek, Fla., Covington announced his arrival in the UFC’s 170-pound weight class by striking the overmatched Anying Wang into submission 4:50 into the first round. A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oregon State University, the 26-year-old has taken to MMA quite well, with four finishes among his first six victories. Pendred and Umalatov will lock horns on Oct. 4 in Sweden.
Alberto Mina vs. Neil Magny-Alex Garcia winner: A long-awaited UFC debut went according to plan for Mina, who weathered an early storm from Shinsho Anzai before putting away the middleweight King of Pancrase with first-round punches. The 32-year-old Hong Kong-based Brazilian has now finished all 11 of his opponents, a staggering nine of them in the opening frame. Magny and Garcia will square off as part of the UFC Fight Night “Henderson vs. dos Anjos” prelims in Tulsa, Okla.