Michael Bisping Takes Split Decision Over Thales Leites in UFC Fight Night 72 Main Event

By Brian Knapp Jul 18, 2015
Michael Bisping has won yet another close fight. | Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/UFC

Michael Bisping was built for the close fight.

Bisping tied Anderson Silva for third place on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s career wins list with a split decision over Nova Uniao’s Thales Leites in the UFC Fight Night “Bisping vs. Leites” headliner on Saturday at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Two of the three cageside judges cast scorecards in Bisping’s favor, awarding him 49-46 and 48-47 marks; a third scored it 48-47 for Leites, who saw his eight-fight winning streak snapped.

Excellent conditioning, incessant lateral movement and busy hands buoyed Bisping (27-7, 17-7 UFC), who mixed leg and body kicks with multi-punch combinations to the head. Leites (25-5, 10-4 UFC) opened a brief window of opportunity early in the third round, where he rocked “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner with a straight right hand along the fence, flurried with punches and later snapped his head back with a right uppercut.

That was essentially the story of the fight. When he bottled up Bisping in close quarters and cut off his escape routes, the Brazilian was successful. However, when he left Bisping to operate in open space, Leites lacked the hand speed and volume to give him pause. More often than not, “The Count” pecked away from the outside with jabs, overhand rights and occasional left hooks, piling up the points along the way.

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Underdog Dunham Upsets Pearson

Repeated takedowns, superb control and a grinding clinch spurred Evan Dunham to a unanimous decision over Alliance MMA’s Ross Pearson in the lightweight co-main event. All three judges sided with Dunham (16-6, 9-6 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Pearson (17-9, 9-6 UFC) had no answer for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s dogged approach. Dunham nearly finished him in the first round, where he advanced to the Brit’s back, corralled him with a body triangle and locked down a tight armbar. Pearson squirmed in pain but freed himself and survived to fight another round. Dunham did not skip a beat in round two, as he again transitioned to the back and lit up “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner with short punches.

Clearly behind on the scorecards, Pearson failed to keep a safe distance in the third round. Dunham stymied him with a relentless series of clinches and takedown attempts, preventing any thought of a comeback.

Duffy Triangle Submits Jorge

The fast-rising Joseph Duffy submitted former Jungle Fight champion Ivan Jorge with a first-round triangle choke in their lightweight showcase. Jorge (26-5, 2-2 UFC), who had never before been submitted, conceded defeat 3:05 into round one.

Duffy (14-1, 2-0 UFC) was calm and collected. He jarred Jorge with a pair of stepping knees and outpaced him with punches before it hit the ground. Duffy countered a takedown attempt from the Brazilian by pushing off the fence and then caught the triangle in the transition. Perhaps sensing he was doomed, Jorge offered little resistance and eventually yielded to the Irishman.

The 27-year-old Duffee has finished his last four opponents, three of them inside one round.

Calderwood Denies Debuting Casey

Crisp striking, a punishing clinch game and some hearty ground-and-pound drove “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 graduate Joanne Calderwood to a unanimous verdict over Cortney Casey in a featured women’s duel at 115 pounds. Calderwood (10-1, 2-1 UFC) carried the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 nods from the judges.

A short-notice replacement for the injured Bec Rawlings, Casey (4-2, 0-1 UFC) stunned the Scot with a ringing left hook inside the first 30 seconds and seemed to have her in real trouble. Calderwood pursued the clinch and ultimately found her way to top position on the ground. She absorbed some elbows and punches from Casey but managed to recalibrate and extend the fight.

In the second and third rounds, Casey was under constant duress. Calderwood let loose with punches and standing elbows, including a number of left hooks that forced the American to retreat to the ground. In the third, the Dinky Ninjas export doubled over a visibly fatigued Casey with a spinning back kick to the body and found another gear with her punches, pulling away with an aggressive surge.

British Prospect Edwards Downs Pawlak

Onetime British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion Leon Edwards outworked Pawel Pawlak to a three-round unanimous decision in a welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges struck the same verdict: 30-27 for Edwards (10-2, 2-1 UFC).

Pawlak (11-2, 1-2 UFC) was effective in spurts, especially to the body with knees and kicks, but he failed to match the Brit’s output. Edwards operated with some success in the clinch, scored with his ground-and-pound after the Pole pulled guard in the second round and landed the most decisive blow of the fight in the third. There, he felled Pawlak with a nasty left head kick and pounced with punches. Though the finish did not materialize, the sequence provided an exclamation point for the victory.

‘Braveheart’ Ray Dismisses Texeira

Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Steven Ray cut through Leonardo Mafra Texeira with first-round punches in a featured lightweight contest. Texeira (12-3, 1-3 UFC) withered 2:30 into round one.

Ray (18-5, 2-0 UFC) clipped the Brazilian with a counter right hook and set him on rubbery legs, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Texeira fired back and fought to steady himself, but the Scot never stopped punching. A crushing left sent Texeira back towards the cage and left him vulnerable to the volley that came next. Lefts and rights flew from Ray, as he drove the American Kickboxing Academy rep to the canvas and put him away.

The 25-year-old Ray now finds himself on a four-fight winning streak.

Crafty Holohan Sinks Lee

Superiority in scrambles, an active top game and higher output on the feet carried SBG Ireland’s Patrick Holohan to a unanimous decision over Vaughan Lee in a three-round undercard battle at 125 pounds. Holohan (12-1-1, 3-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges.

Lee (14-11-1, 3-5 UFC) saw moments of opportunity pass him by: He moved to the Irishman’s back to threaten with a rear-naked choke in the first round and climbed to mount early in the second. However, neither situation provided a path to victory, and Lee’s pace slowed to a crawl in round three. Holohan, meanwhile, mixed his punches and kicks on the feet and assumed top position in all three rounds, snatching his seventh win in eight outings.

Latifi Blitzes Blackzilians’ Stringer

Ilir Latifi knocked out Blackzilians export Hans Stringer with a counter right hand and subsequent ground punches in the first round of their preliminary light heavyweight pairing. Latifi (10-4, 3-2 UFC) needed just 56 seconds to execute the finish.

Stringer (22-7-3, 1-2 UFC) never got started. The Dutchman backed Latifi towards the cage, uncorked an ill-advised leg kick and absorbed a straight right for his troubles. He collapsed to the canvas in a dazed state, Latifi meeting him with a jackhammer right and left that knocked him stiff.

The 31-year-old Latifi has posted six wins across his past eight appearances.

Lebout Outduels Replacement Packalen

Mickael Lebout won for the seventh time in eight fights, as he captured a unanimous decision from Teemu Packalen in a three-round undercard tilt at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Lebout (14-4-1, 1-1 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

A late-notice replacement for the injured Jake Matthews, Packalen (7-1, 0-1 UFC) enjoyed some success on the feet but did his best work on the ground. He achieved full mount three times but ran out of gas in the latter half of the match. Lebout handled himself on the feet, sprawled out of many of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt’s takedown attempts and waited for fatigue to take hold. Packalen retreated to the butt scoot position repeatedly in the second and third rounds, often failing to lure the Frenchman into his guard.

Scotsman Whiteford Blasts Redmond

American Top Team-trained Scotsman Robert Whiteford wiped out Paul Redmond with a clean left hook and follow-up ground strikes in a preliminary featherweight scrap. Redmond (10-6, 0-2 UFC) wilted 3:04 into round one, as he was sent to his second straight defeat.

Whiteford (12-2, 2-1 UFC) countered effectively, worked crisp body-head combinations and waited for an opening. He folded Redmond with left hook, trailed him to the mat and finished it there, firing off punches until referee Marc Goddard stepped in to save the Irish grappler.

The 32-year-old Whiteford has won 12 of his past 13 bouts.

Rivera Sizzles in Debut

Former King of the Cage and Ring of Combat champion Jimmie Rivera took care of Marcus Brimage with first-round punches in their undercard encounter at 135 pounds. Rivera (17-1, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 1:29 into round one, making the most of his opportunity as a short-notice fill-in for Ian Entwistle.

The two bantamweights traded from the start. Rivera wobbled Brimage (7-5, 4-4 UFC) with a clubbing right, swarmed with follow-up punches and forged the finish. The Team Tiger Schulmann export has now rattled off 16 consecutive victories.

Omielanczuk Wastes Newcomer De la Rocha

KSW alum Daniel Omielanczuk disposed of the previously unbeaten Chris de la Rocha with first-round punches in a preliminary heavyweight clash. A replacement for the injured Konstantin Erokhin, de la Rocha (3-1, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 48 seconds into round one.

Omielanczuk (17-5-1, 2-2 UFC) staggered the Octagon rookie with a head kick, steered clear of the return fire and floored the Washington native with a lunging right hand. The Pole then pounced on de la Rocha and polished him off with one final burst of punches, forcing referee Grant Waterman to act.

The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for Omielanczuk.


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