#MichaelBisping shocked the world when he won the UFC Middleweight Championship belt from #LukeRockhold in June. One of the most recognizable and longest tenured fighters in the UFC had finally reached the top. However, many people forget that these two had fought before, and things did not go Bisping's way. Not only that, but it was one of the most exciting cards ever.
On November 8, 2014, the UFC headed to Sydney for the fourth — and so far, final — time. The card was packed with great match-ups that seemed to put forth evenly matched opponents. However, absolute wars were few and far between on this card, as all 11 of the fights resulted in a finish, with only one seeing the third round. As a result, UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Bisping is the shortest combined fight time of any card in the #Zuffa Era.
The night started off with a head kick KO by Marcus Brimage on Jumabieke Tuerxun in the first round, and the fighters did not stop there. The undercard had five first-round finishes, including a KO win for "Smile'N" Sam Alvey.
The main card carried the momentum of the preliminary fights for the rest of the night. Though the main card slowed things down without a single first round finish, all four fights were over in the second.
The main card started with Australia's own Soa Palelei securing a knockout on Walt Harris in the closing seconds of the second round. These big guys were slugging for most of the 10 minutes, and had the fans pumped for the rest of the card.
The hometown crowd was treated for the second straight time as fellow countryman #RobertWhittaker put on a Fight of the Night with Clint Hester. These men were all about throwing punches, and not too worried about going to the ground. A series of strikes led to a beautiful knee that dropped Hester and made the Aussies 2-0 on the main card.
The co-main event featured now UFC pariah, #AlIaquinta, against former TUF winner #RossPearson. While Pearson has always been one to scrap, he was outmatched in this one. After taking punishment in the first round, Pearson could not withstand the barrage of punches from Iaquinta, and dropped to the canvas. This marked Iaquinta's fifth win in the UFC, and he capped it off with one of his strangest post fight interviews.
This set us up for the main event. Rockhold and Bisping were not friends heading into this fight. The two had been going at it ever since Bisping had made a joke about beating Rockhold in a sparring session, calling himself the "unofficial #Strikeforce champion." Rockhold did not take to kindly to that.
With the bad blood brewing and both men seeking title aspirations, there was plenty of animosity inside the Octagon two years ago. The first round started off strangely when an inadvertent headbutt cut open Bisping under his left eye. The rest of the first round was slow-paced, with both fighters feeling each other out.
The second round got off to a much faster start as Rockhold clipped Bisping with a head kick that sent him to the ground. Rockhold methodically pursued his wounded foe, and when Bisping exposed his neck, Rockhold sunk in a guillotine to get the W.
From what we remember of #UFC199, these guys definitely do not like each other, and were going after one another after the fight. However, at UFC Fight Night Sydney, Rockhold immediately helped Bisping up, they called each other warriors and had the utmost respect. How much can change in two years?
This fight had massive implications for the middleweight division, as it moved Rockhold one fight closer to his eventual title fight with #ChrisWeidman, and sent Bisping to regroup. "The Count" said it was "back to the drawing board" and that he was "going nowhere." He knew what he was talking about as a little more than 18 months later he was the UFC Champion.
This fight card gave us one of the most interesting rivalries in the UFC, but it also made history. With so many first and second round finishes, this was the shortest fight card under the Fertitta leadership. The 11 fights totaled 63 minutes and 51 seconds, or just over one round per fight. These fighters took the quick and dirty approach, but it made UFC Fight Night Sydney one of the best shows the UFC has done.