April 16, 2014 | Colisee Pepsi | Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Despite being for a lesser TUF series and being held midweek (which really sucks for those of us who are not in the Americas and are working on Thursday…) this card is damn fantastic, to the point where I’m going to break my rule of talking about one match other than the main event and have a wee chat about two of them.
Headlining the show are middleweight contenders Michael Bisping (24-5) and Tim Kennedy (17-4) who face off in what must count as neutral territory with Bisping being your archetypal ‘mouthy Brit’ in many Americans eyes, while Kennedy’s ‘Ranger Up’ persona is well established I guess that French-speaking Canada is as appropriate a venue as any.
Bisping is the perennial ‘one win away from a title shot’ guy, while Kennedy is riding a 3-0 streak that showcases his well rounded skills and his KO of Rafael Natal was exactly the kind of thing that boosts you closer to a title shot than a mundane win, so whoever gets their hand raised is right in line for a crack at the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida for the Middleweight gold.
Both guys are well rounded, with quality striking and grappling skills, so in many ways this fight is a really tough one to predict. That said, Bisping has the clear edge in experience, both in terms of number of fights and the calibre of opponents he’s faced, which could prove decisive
Basically, this is a match worthy of co-main eventing a pay per view, which is pretty good going for a midweek TUF finale…
… which is just as well seeing as I don’t think many folks paid much, if any attention to TUF Nations at least outside of Canada & Australia. I know I didn’t.
With that in mind, I’ve got pretty much nothing to say about the tourney finals or even the coaches bout except that Patrick Cote & Kyle Noke are both fun fighters and should produce an entertaining matchup.
Much more interesting to me are some of the supporting fights, with Akira Corassani (12-3) getting his biggest matchup to date against perennial contender & top ten fixture Dustin Poirer (15-3).
Corassani is undefeated in the UFC with wins over Andy Ogle, Robbie Peralta and Maximo Blanco, while Poirer is currently on a 2-0 streak with wins over former #1 contender Erik Koch and TUF winner Diego Brandao.
Both fighters are well rounded and experienced and a bump in terms of rankings, paydays and quality of opponents is the prize for both of them. This should be a cracking fight.
The last fight I really want to concentrate on features Canada’s Sarah Kaufman (16-2, 1NC) taking on late replacement Leslie Smith (6-4-1).
Kaufman remains one of the top bantamweights in the world, despite her (overturned) decision loss to Jessica Eye and fast loss to Ronda Rousey. Across the cage, Smith’s record does not reflect her skills and entertainment value and with an eye to redress a prior loss to Kaufman
This is sure to be a competitive, action packed fight between two ladies who deserve more acclaim than they have received.
Throw in some potentially very fun matches between Sam Stout and KJ Noons as well as George Roop and Dustin Kimura and this is one of the most solid and overlooked cards the UFC has put together in a while.
The only question that remains is ‘dare I risk falling asleep at work on Thursday to stay up and watch the fights?’
I just might.
Main CARD – BT Sport 12 midnight
Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy
Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke
Elias Theodorou vs. Sheldon Westcott – “TUF Nations” middleweight final
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Chad Laprise – “TUF Nations” welterweight final
Akira Corassani vs. Dustin Poirier
Preliminary CARD – BT Sport 10 p.m.
K.J. Noons vs. Sam Stout
Sarah Kaufman vs. Leslie Smith
Ryan Jimmo vs. Sean O’Connell
Dustin Kimura vs. George Roop
Preliminary CARD – UFC Fight Pass, 8:15 p.m.
Mark Bocek vs. Mike De La Torre
Vik Grujic vs. Nordine Taleb
Chris Indich vs. Richard Walsh
Mitch Gagnon vs. Tim Gorman