April 17, 2014, QUEBEC CITY, Que. (ISN) – Former Green Beret Tim Kennedy lamented the lack of a finish in his main event win over Michael Bisping, as dominant as it was.
Toronto’s Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou was all smiles, however, after being crowned the 185-pound winner of “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” reality TV show.
Despite their contrasting post-victory emotions, both middleweights signalled on the TUF Nations finale card Wednesday night that they are ones to watch in the future.
Kennedy (18-4) came into his fight ranked eighth among UFC middleweight contenders and took advantage of a rusty Bisping. The 35-year-old Briton, ranked No. 5, had not fought since April 2013 due to two surgeries to repair a detached retina and was never able to get his game going thanks to Kennedy’s smothering game plan.
Still Kennedy wasn’t satisfied, arguing that he did the hard work to get into advantageous positions and then failed to do damage from them.
“I don’t think I have anything positive right now. Ask me something I did bad and I can answer you,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot more to show,” he added. “You’re going to get little glimpses of what I can do. And that was a little glimpse.”
But in dispatching Bisping, whose only previous losses in the UFC had come to elite fighters, the 34-year-old Kennedy showed plenty despite suffering a possibly broken hand in the first round.
While an ungainly striker, he hits with some power and is a very effective grappler.
Bisping has made a name for himself for being able to fight off takedowns or get back to his feet if taken down. Against Chael Sonnen, a decorated wrestler, Bisping was able to stop three of seven takedowns and even managed to dump Sonnen once.
But Kennedy, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, converted five of 11 takedowns and had his way with Bisping on the ground.
“I didn’t think either that Tim could take him down and control him on the ground as easily as he did,” said White. “I’m learning more and more about Tim Kennedy every time he fights too.”
In rounds one, three and five, when Kennedy took the fight to the ground, Bisping was unable to offer any offence. He managed zero, one and eight significant strikes in those rounds — offering more in the fifth round mainly because the referee stood the fighters up.
As a fighter who thrives on a high volume of strikes, Bisping was taken completely out of his game.
The judges scored it 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 for Kennedy.
Kennedy, who still serves in the Army National Guard where he teaches hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, is now 3-0 in the UFC after a 6-2 record in Strikeforce that included a championship bout loss to Luke Rockhold.
Theodorou (10-0) is a colourful character whose resume includes TV acting jobs on “The Listener” and “Played” as well a Netflix project called “The No. 1 Contender.” He has also appeared on “The Match Game” on the Comedy Network and posed for Harlequin Romance book covers.
“For whatever reason, Harlequin seems to like my butt,” he said recently.
He said he plans to continue branching out, despite earning a UFC contract.
“I’m going to do everything. Honestly, life’s too short just to do one thing. But the one thing I love most in the world is mixed martial arts. So that’s my focus.”
The 25-year-old took time out during his TKO win over Edmonton’s Sheldon Westcott on Wednesday to find a camera and say hello to his Mom as he controlled his opponent.
“I felt comfortable, I felt confident, and I could see myself slowly breaking my opponent’s will so why not have some fun in there?” said Theodorou. “It was the most important fight of my life and I enjoyed every second of it.
“There’s no nerves just smiles — while you’re punching someone in the face.”
Theodorou’s size and wrestling skills took their toll against the smaller Westcott, who normally fights at 170 pounds. Theodorou, who estimated he weighed 210 in the cage, endured an early onslaught in the first round and then took control.
He dumped Westcott midway through the second round and hammered him, with the referee eventually stepping in to stop the beating at 4:41.
Theodorou had a 73-13 edge in significant strikes and converted all three takedown attempts while stopping two of Westcott’s four attempts.
“He looked fantastic,” said White, marvelling how much at ease Theodorou looked.
“He acted like there was no pressure. The kid looked really good tonight. Completely dominant performance, had fun in there doing it.”
Victoria bantamweight Sarah Kaufman also turned heads with her high-volume striking in a decision win over Leslie (The Peacemaker) Smith. Kaufman landed 202 significant strikes to 79 for Smith, a late injury replacement.
Kaufman (17-2 with one no contest) also stuffed five takedown attempts while landing the one takedown she tried.
“I like the high volume (striking) and really letting loose a little bit,” said the 28-year-old Kaufman, ranked fifth among women’s bantamweight contenders. “I tried to get the finish but unfortunately she’s tough and just stayed in there. But I was really happy overall with the three rounds.”
NOTES — Kyle Noke told Montreal welterweight Patrick (The Predator) Cote he broke his hand during their fight. Cote won by decision … UFC president Dana White says Cat Zingano, the No. 1 contender among women’s bantamweights, is “out for a while.” Zingano is dealing with a serious knee injury and the January death of her husband. “She has a lot of stuff to deal with — mentally, physically, emotionally, before she can start training to come back and fight again,” said White.