Michael Bisping earned a split decision victory tonight in the UFC’s first trip to Glasgow, Scotland; defeating Thales Leites in a five round standup battle.
Bisping and Leites were ranked ninth and tenth, respectively, at 185 lbs coming into the bout, and odds makers had it listed as virtually even money — as did many members of media.
So it wasn’t a surprise that the fight was won by a razor thin margin. But perhaps the character of the fight wasn’t what everyone expected.
Leites, of Rio de Jainero, Brazil, was booed at weigh-ins, but received a nice ovation at introductions. The switch was possibly a result of his choice of ring-walk anthems, as Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” had the Glasgow crowd singing along.
Still, Bisping, of Liverpool, England, enjoyed most of the crowd’s support.
Also surprising was the jiu-jitsu practitioner Leites abandoning takedowns early in the bout. The kickboxer Bisping didn’t jab as often as usual.
Leites mostly advanced behind heavy leg kicks and some hard punching, while Bisping utilized several different punching and kicking combinations.
In the end, Bisping’s volume was enough to sway two of the judges, who scored the bout 49-46, 48-47. A third scored the bout 48-47 for Leites.
The night’s other action included an impressive comeback effort for Glasgow’s own Joanne Calderwood, who recovered from a poor performance in her last bout (and some early trouble in this one) to defeat Cortney Casey of the US. Calderwood was stunned by Casey’s punching combinations early in the fight, but recovered to land some damaging blows — including a spinning back kick to the body which scored a knockdown. She would eventually earn a unanimous decision victory in the bout, which was later named “Fight of the Night.”