At Last Night’s UFC Fight Night, Great Action Trumped Greater Events

What kind of night was UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Bisping?

It wasn’t that classic event you invite friends over for — the ones with all the big names to reel in casual fans. (Then again, have we had any of those this year…?)

It really wasn’t a must-see for a hardcore fan, either. Only one bout featured two top-ten ranked fighters. Compare to years past where every fight featured a contender or champion, and UFC Fight Night 55, or UFC Fight Night Sydney, or whatever you want to call it, just doesn’t measure up.

But it was a record-breaking night, of great bell-to-bell action.

Maybe there’s a difference between a great fight night — a event that really seems an EVENT — and a night of great fights. I shared some thoughts on the matter back in September before UFC 178, but maybe this is a better example.

For a night of great fights, maybe you don’t need a great event. But you might need a collection of fighters ready for battle. In the main event, Luke Rockhold certainly did.

Maybe it felt like he had to.

His opponent, Michael Bisping, may have been a betting underdog but he was a clear crowd favorite. Aussie fans didn’t give Bisping a kind reception for his first visit to their country — chanting, memorably, “Bisping’s a wanker!” as he battled Wanderlei Silva a few years back — but this time, he was greeted with cheers. Fans sang along with the Liverpool, England native’s music, Blur’s “Song No. 2”, as he strutted to the cage.

(What won them over? Bisping’s hard nosed Liverpool background, compared to Rockhold, whose native Santa Cruz, California is better known for surfers than fighters? Maybe some commonwealth connection? Nah… probably, Bisping’s charisma, which has kept him in the limelight for years despite never quite earning a title shot…)

In contrast, the American Rockhold was greeted by boo’s by the Sydney, Australia crowd as he marched to the cage. Rockhold’s music was significant too — “The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton — a country song that detailed a pivotal battle between the US and British troops in the War of 1812:

“In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’,
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’,
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they begin to runnin’,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico…”

It was a creative choice for Rockhold — we seem to hear the same hard rock and hip hop every night — and it set the tone for what would come next: a violent dispatching of Bisping, who would finally fall to a one-arm guillotine choke in the second round.

It was the first submission loss of Bisping’s long career, and capped off a night where every fight was decided within the distance: a record setting total of eleven finishes.

But that was UFC last night — maybe not so much to weigh heavily on the rankings, but it sure was a ton of fun. Offer one of these every month, and UFC Fight Pass actually seems a heck of a value.