Bisping edges Leites via split decision at UFC Fight Night 72
MANILA, Philippines – Fighting in the Untied Kingdom for the first time in nearly five years, Michael Bisping eked out a split decision against Thales Leites in the main event of UFC Fight Night 72 on Sunday, July 19 at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.
Two of the three judges ruled in Bisping’s favor, awarding him 49-46 and 48-47 marks. Meanwhile, the third cageside official saw it 48-47 for Leites.
Exceptional conditioning, persistent lateral movement and active hands sustained Bisping in the five-round bout by mixing leg and body kicks with multi-punch combinations to the head.
However, it was far from an easy victory for Bisping as Leites continued to walk forward with power punches and had Bisping hurt on multiple occasions.
In the early phase of the third round, the 33-year-old Brazilian opened a brief window of opportunity as Leites rocked his British counterpart with straight right hand along the fence, flustered with heavy punches, and later snapped Bispin’s head back with a right uppercut.
Showing perhaps a small sign of fatigue later in the aforementioned period, Leites caught a leg kick from Bisping and converted it into a takedown, but the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt could barely maintain Bisping on the mat.
Leites hurt Bisping again in the final frame with clouting hooks, but he let Bisping operate in open space, pecking away with stiff jabs, overhand rights and occasional left hooks.
By besting Leites, Bisping (27-7) earned back-to-back wins in the Octagon for the first time since 2011.
“I felt I was in control of the fight for the most part,” Bisping said in his post-fight interview. “He hit me with a couple of good shots on two occasions, but other than that I felt great and I felt in control.”
With triumphs over CB Dollaway and Leites in his last two outings, Bisping believes that he is on the brink of a title shot by calling out several fighters.
“I’m still here. Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, [Ronaldo] ‘Jacare’ [Souza]. Line them up, [and] I’ll take them out. That’s a fact.”
A submission setback to current title contender Luke Rockhold this past November was considered to be his last serious crack at challenging for the belt.
On the other hand, Leites (25-5) had previously won eight-straight matches and suffers his first loss inside UFC’s famed Octagon since the promotion re-signed him in 2013.
“I’m upset, of course, because I committed a lot of mistakes. That’s five five-minute rounds. He knows how to use the Octagon space very well. Now I will go back home, I will train, and I will come back even stronger,” Leites stated.