In what is an unbelievable turn of events, Michael Bisping has stepped up just three weeks after losing to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 to replace Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC Fight Night 122. Bisping will be facing middleweight star athlete Kelvin Gastelum as the UFC heads to Shanghai, China for an exciting event that features many up-and-coming Chinese martial artists.
It took the return of one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever to stop Michael Bisping’s reign at the top of the UFC middleweight division. Bisping had racked up five consecutive wins before facing the Canadian on November 4. Bisping looked slow in comparison to St-Pierre early in the contest but looked to be gaining momentum in the contest after damaging St-Pierre from his full guard. In the third round, however, St-Pierre executed a brilliant series which forced Bisping to give up his back before St-Pierre sunk in the rear-naked choke and submitted the champion.
Kelvin Gastelum will be entering UFC Fight Night 122 after having his two-fight winning streak broken by Chris Weidman at UFC on FOX 25. After wins against Johny Hendricks, Tim Kennedy and a KO/TKO of Vitor Belfort at UFC Fight Night 106 (later ruled a no-contest), it looked as though Gastelum would be a tough test for anyone in the division. However, Weidman disposed of Gastelum in the third round via submission. Interestingly, Gastelum continues to compete at middleweight for this bout after declaring that he would drop down to welterweight again.
In the co-main event, UFC fan-favorite Li “The Leech” Jingliang will get a chance to compete in front of his fans in China as he takes on Zak Ottow in what is sure to be an explosive matchup. “The Leech” has put together three consecutive wins against Anton Zafir, Bobby Nash, and Frank Camacho before earning himself a deserved featured spot at UFC Fight Night 122. Zak Ottow is 2-1 through his time with the UFC so far and has scored split decision wins against Josh Burkman and Kiichi Kunimoto but lost a split decision against Sergio Moraes.
The always entertaining Alex Caceres finds himself matched up against Chinese Wang Guan. Wang is regarded as one of the very best mixed martial artists through all of China and this is scheduled to be his first fight in the promotion after signing earlier in 2017. Wang has managed an impressive record of 19-1-1 through his professional mixed martial arts career but has been untested by the type of competition he will be facing inside the UFC’s octagon. Caceres’ record might not be the most impressive (13-10), but he has been competing against some of the best in the UFC’s featherweight division for a long time now.
To get the main card started, 13-1 Muslim Salikhov will be stepping into the UFC’s octagon for the first time. Salikhov will be matched against Alex Garcia who has struggled to find consistency with his results lately in the promotion. Garcia is a difficult matchup for anyone making their UFC debut, but Salikhov’s record suggests that he is a man up to the task.
Predictions and Best Bets
Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum
This main event is undoubtedly much more intriguing due to the fact that Michael Bisping was on the receiving end of a beatdown from Georges St-Pierre not that long ago. With the fire burning inside of him and an urge to get back in there and get things back on the right track, Bisping accepted this fight against Gastelum.
First things first, Gastelum is a small middleweight. While that means he can’t grapple or stick for too long with the Weidman’s of the division, it also means that his hands are lightning-fast for the division. His boxing ability is already excellent and this could be the key difference coming into this fight with Bisping. It seems likely that Gastelum will be able to answer back with counter shots every time Bisping attempts a poor strike.
Alternatively, Bisping does have the ability to hurt Gastelum from long range. If he can’t hurt him enough to end the fight, Bisping also has the cardio to take this one deep into the fight and then do the damage there or win it on the scorecards.
Gastelum’s striking is nasty, but there’s no way Bisping should be this underrated by the bookmakers. We’ll make the most of it.
Bet: Michael Bisping to win
Odds: +215 (54/25, $3.16)
UFC Fight Night 122 fight card
UFC Fight Night 122 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 3:45 am (8:45am GMT) ET on Saturday, November 25.
UFC Fight Pass (7:00am ET / 12:00pm GMT)
- Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum
- Li Jinglian vs. Zak Ottow
- Wang Guan vs. Alex Caceres
- Muslim Salikhov vs. Alex Garcia
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
UFC Fight Pass (3:45 am ET / 8:45am GMT)
- Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Sheymon Moraes
- Kenan Song vs. Bobby Nash
- Kailin Curran vs. Xiaonan Yan
- Pingyuan Liu vs. Bharat Khandare
- Chase Sherman vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov
- Yanan Wu vs. Gina Mazany
- Wuliji Buren vs. Rolando Dy
- Cyril Asker vs. James Mulheron