By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, May 29 – British middleweight star Michael Bisping was sharp, disciplined, and in fine form in his UFC 114 co-main event bout with Dan Miller Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, using a pinpoint striking attack to score a three round unanimous decision victory over the ultra-tough New Jersey native.
“The gameplan was to do what I did but to finish the fight,” said Bisping. “He’s tough. I hit him with some big right hands and he took them.”
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Bisping, who was coming off a close decision loss to Wanderlei Silva in February.
After an intense forehead to forehead staredown that prompted a pre-fight push from Miller, the two fighters met at the center of the Octagon at the bell and got down to business, poking at each other with range-finding strikes. Bisping was the busier of the two, and he found a home for his strikes, but the more economical Miller was able to land as well. By the end of the round, Bisping had bloodied Miller’s nose and reddened his face, while the Brit went back to his corner unmarked.
Miller began pushing the pace harder in the second, landing with leg kicks that got Bisping’s attention. After a couple though, ‘The Count’ had them timed and he drilled his foe with a hard right to the head. Miller kept pressing, firing off a combination in response to a high kick, but Bisping was starting to counter with harder shots as the round progressed, leaving Miller in a 2-0 hole entering the final round.
What started out as something less than civil apparently turned into respect as Miller and Bisping embraced before the third round began. And with the crowd chanting “USA, USA”, Miller made his last run, briefly rocking Bisping with a right hand early in the frame. Just before the midway point of the round, Miller scored with his first takedown of the fight, but was unable to keep Bisping there, and a subsequent attempt was rebuffed, leaving Bisping to run out the clock with more crisp counters to cap off a competitive, yet dominant victory.
With the win, Bisping ups his record to 20-3; Miller, who has now lost three in a row, falls to 11-4, with 1 NC.
For 12 minutes and 30 seconds, highly touted heavyweight prospect Todd Duffee was sailing to his second UFC win in as many tries. But in what turned out to be the final five seconds of the bout, Mike Russow turned the tables and turned Duffee’s lights out with a stirring third round knockout victory.
Duffee came out fast, perhaps looking to replicate his seven second win over Tim Hague last November, and he rocked and dropped Russow in the early going. To Russow’s credit, he shook off the blows and stood in there, hoping for the opening he needed to get the fight to the mat, but that opening never showed up, and Duffee’s striking prowess allowed him to win the first round big.
Continuing to potshot Russow, Duffee scored repeatedly on his iron-chinned foe in the second round, but he was starting to get winded at the same time. Unfortunately for Russow, the Las Vegas resident’s takedown defense was still solid, keeping him from mounting any kind of offense and allowing Duffee to take another round.
Nothing changed in round three, as it was Duffee pitching and Russow catching, but suddenly the Chicago product drilled Duffee on the chin with a right hand over the top that started to send him towards the canvas. A follow-up right finished the job at the 2:35 mark, and just like that, Mike Russow was 2-0 in the UFC thanks to one of the most impressive comebacks seen in recent years.
With the win, Russow improves to 13-1 with 1 NC; Duffee, who was leading 20-18 on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the knockout, falls to 6-1.
When Jason Brilz was brought in as a late replacement for the injured Forrest Griffin to face light heavyweight contender Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, many thought the Omaha product was a lamb being led to slaughter. Undeterred, Brilz thought he was going to win and the 6 ½ to 1 underdog almost did, putting together a career-best performance before falling short on the scorecards via an unpopular three round split decision that was booed by the packed house.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Nogueira, who improves to 19-3; Brilz falls to 18-3-1.
“I left it up to the judges and anything can happen,” said Brilz. “It is what it is.”
There was little action in the opening minute, and then Nogueira pounced with knees to the stomach. A subsequent kick allowed Brilz to take his foe down, and he was effective on the mat as he landed with punches while keeping Nogueira on the mat. With under two minutes left, Nogueira worked free and got a takedown of his own, but soon the fighters were back on their feet, where they stayed until the end of the frame.
Brilz got the fight back to the mat early in round two, but was forced to get out of a guillotine choke to do it. Brilz returned the favor moments later, with the Nebraskan eventually releasing the hold in order to work his ground and pound. Midway through the round, Brilz attempted the guillotine again. This time Nogueira had an easier time getting free and the two stood. Brilz’ next takedown attempt was stuffed, but he still scored points by landing with a hard right to the head. Nogueira responded a few moments later with a knee, but in the final 30 seconds it was Brilz landing punches and calling for Nogueira to bring it on.
Repeating his successful opening to round two, Brilz took Nogueira to the mat and avoided a guillotine choke. This time though, Nogueira stayed busy, and in a scramble he landed some hard shots before the two got back to their feet. Brilz continued to look for a takedown, but Nogueira was doing whatever necessary to keep it standing, and as he stalked the tiring Brilz, it looked like he was on the verge of something big. After a quick choke attempt on the mat by Nogueira, the bout went back to the feet, with Brilz doggedly pursuing and getting the takedown with a little over a minute left. There the two traded positioning with Nogueira finishing on top with ground strikes.
Welterweight John Hathaway may not be the flashiest or most brash fighter to emerge from the United Kingdom, but the British prospect may eventually turn out to be the best if his form in shutting out perennial contender Diego Sanchez over three rounds holds true in the coming years.
The unanimous decision read 30-27 twice and 30-26 for Hathaway, who improves to 14-0. Sanchez, who was returning to the welterweight division after a 2-1 run at lightweight in 2009 that ended in a TKO loss to then-champion BJ Penn last December, falls to 23-4.
Hathaway showed no jitters in the bright lights of Las Vegas, as he stuffed Sanchez’ initial takedown attempt, muscled him around on the inside, and bloodied his nose with his striking. The real damage came with under three minutes left when he times a shot by Sanchez with a right knee to the head that knocked the New Mexico native down and almost out. Hathaway moved in for the finish, and while he landed with a series of hard shots, Sanchez was able to eventually clear his head. That didn’t stop Hathaway’s attack though, and he continued to fire away until the bell.
There was no let up to Hathaway’s offensive assault in round two, and his accurate shots from long range continued to pepper Sanchez’ face. Needless to say, Sanchez refused to wilt, and after getting a few of his own strikes in, he was able to score his first takedown with a little over three minutes left. Hathaway didn’t stay there long though, and his height and reach advantage continued to give Sanchez fits in the standup game, especially when he threw (and landed) his right hand.
Sanchez was again befuddled by Hathaway’s attack in the final round, as he repeatedly got clipped with straight punches while seeing his takedown attempts come up empty. With 1:40 left, Sanchez got stunned briefly by another flush right hand, and 30 seconds later a high kick had the same effect, sealing a brilliant performance by the 22-year old from Brighton.