Luke Rockhold sent a strong statement to the UFC middleweight division tonight at UFC Fight Night in Sydney, Australia.
Undaunted by a partisan crowd, the Santa Cruz, CA native out-struck and dropped a top-ten ranked middleweight in Michael Bisping, eventually scoring a second round guillotine submission victory in a transition.
Rockhold, a former Strikeforce middleweight champion, improved his MMA record to 13-2 with the victory. Bisping, of Liverpool, England, drops to 25-7.
After the bout, Rockhold called out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who he defeated for the Strikeforce belt back in 2011. Souza is touted by many for the next shot at the middleweight title.
Bisping, who has come close but never quite earned a title shot in his eight-year UFC career, seemed to admit the day may never come in a post-fight interview, noting “I’m not going anywhere.”
The defeat was the first by submission in Bisping’s long career, in a night where every bout was decided inside the distance. A total of eleven bouts were all decided by KO, TKO, or submission.
Rockhold shared performance of the night honors with flyweight Louis Smolka, who scored a sensational TKO win with a head kick followed by punches against Richie Vasulik. That bout was among the preliminary bouts.
Al Iaquinta won a minor upset in the co-main event, stopping Ross Pearson with punches in the second round of their meeting. Robert Whittaker and Clint Hester combined for a memorable brawl on the main card as well, with Whittaker’s superior technique eventually winning the day. Whittaker moved inside of Hester’s wild punching for hand combo’s and then a big knee to the head. A series of punches ended that bout.
For a full play-by-play of the main card and all results, please click here.