UFC 127 Results and Recap

“Expect impressive performances from Lytle, Sotiropoulos, and Penn.”

None of these men won, and though at least one match was close and compelling, UFC 127 was a show where the deck was reshuffled yet again, leaving Joe Silva, Dana White, and the Fertitta Brothers with some interesting promotional choices to make.

My own rule of thumb is that when you have a lower-profile lineup, such as no title matches, proven pay-per-view stars (BJ Penn aside), or long-brewing beefs (the Rivera-Bisping thing didn’t have any history prior to their match), shows such as UFC 127 reveal future contenders and personalities to build around for bigger shows later down the road. As such, what was already a mixed bag was shaken up even more with interesting results.

U.S.-transplant Brian Ebersole shocked fans with his unconventional yet effective fighting style. Ultimate Fighter season nine winner Ross Pearson decisively handled UFC veteran Spencer Fisher. Dennis Siver thwarted plans for George Sotiropoulos, who was earmarked as a potentially strong lightweight title contender and Zuffa’s Great Australian Hope. And though he didn’t win, Jon Fitch renewed his title contender’s card with his performance against what seemed to be “the serious BJ Penn.”

The two big controversies emerging from UFC 127 are in part the outcomes of the last two matches, but also where the respective stars of those matches go from there. BJ Penn was clearly disappointed in his performance, and though he didn’t make any retirement announcements, he did allude to questioning what the next chapter to his fight career will look like.

Before most BJ Penn matches, the proverbial question is always “which BJ will show up to fight?” Conventionally, it’s either the amazing grappler with hard, fast hands that earned his ‘Prodigy’ nickname, or the unmotivated daydreamer who looks like he’d rather be anywhere than an octagon cage. In this case, it felt like we saw the Prodigy, but that he simply couldn’t seal the deal like he could against guys like Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. Time eventually catches up with all fighters at some point, and when it catches them off guard (as it seemed with Fedor two weeks ago), their kneejerk reaction is to court retirement.

Shortly after the press conference, Penn told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani “everything runs through your head at certain times and your mind changes from time to time. I still don’t know what I’m gonna do.”

In the week leading up to the fight, fans and media really picked up on the heat between Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera, the latter of whose series of YouTube videos clearly got under the Englishman’s skin. Such that Bisping’s worst side came out with his behavior during the match (grabbing the cage, blatant illegal knee) and afterwards (spitting at Rivera’s corner).

Post-fight trash talking and obscene gestures, which Bisping also partook in tonight, don’t do any truly measurable harm. Neither Josh Koscheck nor Brock Lesnar were fined or suspended for their post-fight behavior. And the referee deducted a point off  Bisping for the illegal knee to Rivera, so it’s not like there wasn’t punishment (given Bisping’s distance from Rivera, line of sight, and knowledge of the rules, disqualification would have been fully justified). But as a veteran of 14 UFC fights, regardless of the videos or his penchant for emotion, Bisping was far out of line. He did apologize in his post-fight interview and again at the press conference later that night. Not that I expect it to happen, but it wouldn’t be improper for UFC brass to invoke further disciplinary action against the Count, because otherwise the bar for acceptable behavior will drop to “as long as you apologize for it afterwards.”

Upon hearing that Rivera’s camp believed the knee to be intentional, and that they believed Bisping should be suspended, he said in reaction “Doesn’t surprise me, really. Just one classless move after another, I suppose.” Indeed, Michael. Indeed.

http://www.ufc.com/media/ufc-127-post-fight-pc-archive

As for the matches, few of them played out as I expected, which shows what a wonderful crapshoot this sport can be. Despite my prediction, I thought Fukuda’s takedowns were enough that he definitely won the third and likely the second, if not the first as well. He didn’t accomplish much with the takedowns from the first and second, and the stand-up fight was close. According to the Wrestling Observer / Figure Four Online website, all three judges scored the bout 29-28, giving Ring the first and second, which would indicate they saw Ring’s striking overshadowed Fukuda’s takedowns, which isn’t an illogical argument. If Fukuda had advanced position off the takedowns in the first and second rounds, he likely would have taken at least one round and tipped the scales for his own 29-28 win.

After years of North American MMA exile, Brian Ebersole clearly embraced and made the most out of his last-minute opportunity to fight in the UFC, landing a fantastic knee in the second that seemed to take Chris Lytle out of the rest of the match. And speaking of knees, though Bisping was close to winning the striking game in his match, that knee to Rivera’s head certainly helped set the stage for round two.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for UFC 127:

145 lbs. – Jason Reinhardt vs. Tiequan Zhang
Prediction:
Zhang via submission (round one)
Result: Zhang via submission (round one)

265 lbs. – Anthony Perosh vs. Tom Blackledge
Prediction:
Perosh via TKO / KO (round one)
Result: Perosh via submission (round one)

155 lbs. – Curt Warburton vs. Maciej Jewtuszko
Prediction:
Jewtuszko via TKO (round two)
Result: Warburton via unanimous decision

265 lbs. – Mark Hunt vs. Chris Tuchscherer
Prediction:
Tuchscherer by submission (round one)
Result: Hunt via TKO (round two)

185 lbs. – Nick Ring vs. Riki Fukuda
Prediction:
Ring via submission (round two or three) or decision.
Result: Ring via unanimous decision

205 lbs. – Alexander Gustafsson x James Te-Huna
Prediction:
Gustafsson via submission (round two) or decision.
Result: Gustafsson via submission (round one)

155 lbs. – Spencer Fisher vs. Ross Pearson
Prediction: Fisher by decision
Result: Pearson via unanimous decision

185 lbs. – Chris Camozzi vs. Kyle Noke
Prediction: Noke via submission (round three)
Result: Noke via submission (round one)

170 lbs. – Brian Ebersole vs. Chris Lytle
Prediction:
Lytle by submission (round one)
Result: Ebersole via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver
Prediction:
Sotiropoulos by submission (round two)
Result: Siver via unanimous decision

185 lbs. – Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera
Prediction:
Rivera by (round three) TKO or Bisping by decision
Result: Bisping via TKO (round two)

170 lbs. – BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch
Prediction:
Penn by submission (round two) or unanimous decision
Result: Majority Draw (two judges draw, one judge 29-28 Fitch

The Finish

As a matchmaker myself, I should empathize when a promoter’s marketing darlings lose and their long-term plans go awry. In this case, an otherwise lackluster card was made interesting by some intriguing yet indecisive finishes. I don’t feel this show revealed much for the future, beyond a potentially entertaining mid-card welterweight in Brian Ebersole, Michael Bisping as a certified heel, and Fitch as the top non-finishing contender. But thankfully, we’ve only got several days before Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann can wash away the stop-gap feel of UFC 127.

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