Posted 08/20/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA
 
 

UFC Fight Night 48: Michael Bisping vs. Cung Le Preview

The UFC returns to China for the third time this Saturday with their worst lineup yet. That’s with Michael Bisping versus Cung Le as arguably the best main event and Dong Hyun Kim versus Tyron Woodley as arguably the best, most relevant fight of any of the China shows. Fight Night 48 takes a Great Wall-sized dump on the undercard, though. The UFC’s first two China shows could pass as legitimate UFC events sprinkled with regional talent. Fight Night 48′s undercard features The Ultimate Fighter 14 journeyman Roland Delorme and Fight Pass punchline Royston Wee as the only names you might kind-of, sort-of recognize.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The UFC constructed Fight Night 48 in line with what I proposed in the past. It’s far past time Dong Hyun Kim returns to the States (this is his fifth consecutive fight on an international show), though the UFC must see him as a regional draw of some sort, having booked him on all three China shows (a claim all his own). And a fight with Woodley (or Kim’s original opponent, Hector Lombard) fits better as a Fox Sports 1 co-main or PPV/Big Fox support.

The main event fits, though, with Bisping either on the downside of his career or needing a gimme after his loss to Tim Kennedy following a year-long layoff (and likely both) and Le being the featured-attraction-type fighter he’s always been. The bland undercard means nothing else goes missed in North America, though one wonders why the UFC chose to bury a women’s bantamweight fight on this card.

So, no, it’s not a great card in its entirety, but you’ve got a couple good-to-great fights to watch while you nurse your hangover this weekend.

THE FALL OF BISPING

Michael Bisping hasn’t won consecutive fights since a decision victory over Jason Miller marked four W’s in a row. He’s alternated losses and wins since, including a Joe Rogan-certified controversial decision loss to Chael Sonnen and a TRT-enhanced head kick knockout loss at the feet of Vitor Belfort. His two wins have come against Brian Stann and Alan Belcher, so it isn’t like his three-fight winning streak after his middleweight debut when he beat 185-pound bodies Charles McCarthy, Jason Day, and Chris Leben.

It’s his last fight against Tim Kennedy that should worry Bisping. He closed as a 2-1 favorite, and, in my eyes, has a skill set that matches well with Kennedy. Instead, Kennedy controlled the fight with takedowns and ground control, besting Bisping’s underrated/overlooked takeddown defense.

The question for Bisping – and what this fight with Le hinges on – is whether the Kennedy fight portends a quick decline or whether ring rust built up after a year off due to a retinal detachment. There’s certainly a mixture here – Bisping’s 35 and a year away will throw most fighter’s timing off – but Bisping should best Le so long as he hasn’t completely fallen off the cliff.

A PUN ABOUT LUMBER AND WOOD

Dong Hyun Kim was originally scheduled to fight Hector Lombard. Lombard went down with an injury in late June, opening up a slot for Tyron Woodley. Woodley’s coming off an uninspired performance against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174, and a fight with Kim offers him a quick rebound.

The winner should find himself in (and for Woodley, a return to) the title mix at 170 pounds. Kim’s on a four-fight winning streak; a win over Woodley would be the biggest feather in his cap. He’ll probably have to take another fight in the interim with Robbie Lawler waiting for Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald next in line should he get past Tarec Saffiedine, but a rematch with Matt Brown would be both a perfect placeholder and a great fight for his Stateside return.

Of course, the UFC should schedule this fight for five rounds, considering its relevance in the welterweight division, and this is another example of how the arbitrary “title fights or main events” policy for five rounders bites them in the ass. Bisping and Le (a part-time fighter) don’t need five rounds, and a fight like Saffiedine versus Hyun Gyu Lim (which headlined the Singapore show) didn’t deserve it (though it wound up making the fight more interesting).

It’s been three years since the UFC expanded their use of five-round fights. It’s time to take the kiddie gloves off and start offering more.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter


Mike Fagan