Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping’s rapid return to the cage after the losing the title didn’t work out the way he had hoped.
Bisping was knocked out by Kelvin Gastelum at the midway point of the opening round on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai just three weeks after he was submitted by Georges St. Pierre at UFC 217 in New York.
That loss had fueled speculation he might retire. The 38-year-old Bisping quickly put that notion to rest when he agreed to step in for Anderson Silva, who was removed from the matchup with Gastelum due to a potential violation of the anti-doping policy.
If he was looking to quickly bounce back from the disappointment of losing the belt and hoping for a quick path back into title contention, things didn’t go according to plan.
Bisping, however, still has no plans to walk away from competition.
“I was enjoying myself,” Bisping said after the fight. “He caught me with a good shot. God bless Kelvin. He’s young. I’ve done this for a long time. I’m getting old.”
“You know Kelvin is a great guy, but unfortunately it’s going to take a bigger pile of (expletive) than him to get rid of me.”
Gastelum has now won three of four fights since moving up to middleweight, though one win was vacated because of a positive marijuana test. His lone loss came against former champ Chris Weidman.
The 26-year-old hopes his run of success is enough to warrant a shot against interim middleweight champ Robert Whittaker.
“I heard he needs a main event opponent over in Australia for February and I’m up for the challenge,” said Gastelum, whose last three wins have come against fighters more than a decade older than him. “You guys say I beat up all the elderly and Robert Whittaker definitely isn’t an elderly. He’s probably my age. So I’m up for that challenge.”
Whittaker should be in line for a unification bout with St. Pierre, but there is no guarantee St. Pierre will defend the belt.
“I feel like Robert Whittaker and I should be next,” Gastelum said.. “We’re two young guys and haven’t even hit our primes. I just beat the guy who was the guy so I should be next.”
Also on Saturday’s card, Gina Mazany picked up her first UFC win by scoring a unanimous decision over Wu Yanan.
Former UFC lightweight sentenced
South Korean fighter Tae Hyun Bang, a lightweight who had five bouts in the UFC between 2014 and 2016, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for accepting bribes to fix a 2015 UFC bout against Leo Kuntz in 2015.
Bang allegedly accepted money to intentionally lose the UFC Fight Night 79 bout, but eventually won the fight by split decision.
The Korea Herald reported on the sentencing, which was handed down by Seoul’s Central District Court.
“The crime of match fixing damages the credibility of sport, and in international matches, it has a bad effect on the country’s credibility as well,” the court said, according to The Korea Herald. “Bang had an obligation to play the game fairly, but he ignored it and took an important role in the scheme. But we did take into consideration that Bang won the bout and returned the money afterwards.”
UFC officials were notified of a drastic move in the betting market and warned both fighters before the fight.
Askren retires undefeated
ONE Championship star Ben Askren closed his career with a 57-second stoppage of Shinya Aoki in Singapore on Friday.
The four-time NCAA All-American and two-time national champion wrestler at Missouri will vacate the ONE Championship welterweight title and retire with an 18-0 record, though he did leave the door open to intriguing opportunities down the road should anything pique his interest.
Askren was the Bellator welterweight champion before signing with the Asian promotion when he became a free agent in 2013. He never competed in the UFC.
Busy week ahead
The UFC will host events in two different cities this week as UFC 218 takes place in Detroit on Saturday following Friday night’s “The Ultimate Fighter 26” Finale card at Park Theater inside the Monte Carlo.
Nicco Montano will fight for the inaugural women’s flyweight title against an opponent to be determined on Wednesday’s episode of the reality show in the main event on Friday night.
Saturday’s pay-per-view card is headlined by a featherweight title rematch between champion Max Holloway and former champ Jose Aldo.
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