Luke Rockhold didn’t finish Michael Bisping in the first round, but finished the fight in spectacular fashion.

Looking For the Early Kill

With all the animosity between him and Michael Bisping, #5 ranked UFC middleweight and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold promised to put #9 contender Michael Bisping away in the first round of their main event battle at UFC Fight Night 55 at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia.

Rockhold came 57 seconds short of his promise on Friday night as he submitted Michael Bisping in the opening minute of round number two via a one-handed guillotine choke. Nevertheless, Rockhold’s victory was decisive and it could lead him to a title shot against the undefeated Chris Weidman next year.

Didn’t Give Bisping Rhythm

Bisping, who came to the bout as a  4-1 underdog, never really got his rhythm going in this fight. The taller, bigger and much rangier Rockhold stalked him from a distance in the opening round. Bisping tried to apply his trademark work output, but Rockhold effectively kept Bisping off his game by landing powerful body kicks each time the Briton tried to close the distance. Rockhold was patient, but he got more confident as the fight went on.

Rockhold never showed any respect for Bisping’s power as he kept walking right through his opponent’s punches throughout the bout. The steady diet of body kicks would later set up the high leg kick to the head in the opening minute of round two. The kick rocked Bisping and dropped him back stunned. Rockhold followed Bisping to the ground and almost knocked him out with a vicious left hand but Bisping was able to recover. As he tried to grab Rockhold, he left his neck wide open for the choke. Rockhold recognized the opening and rolled him to a guillotine before taking full mount and eventually forcing Bisping to tap out.

Settled Their Differences

Rockhold helped Bisping back to his feet after the stoppage. Both men showed tremendous respect for each other despite all the trash talk that preluded the fight. That trash talk continued early in the fight after Rockhold cut Bisping’s left eye with an accidental head butt. Bisping protested to referee Herb Dean but Rockhold motioned him to fight on. When the two fighters were returned to the original lock position after the injury break, neither would give away an inch of position.

The fight was pretty even in the first round, with Rockhold doing the significant damage. But he started the second round like a man on a mission and put Bisping away very quickly.

With the title shot closing in, Rockhold called out #4 Jacare Souza whom he beat by unanimous decision in 2011. UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman fights Vitor Belfort in February 2015. If the Rockhold-Souza fight can be made, the winner should be the next in line for Weidman’s belt.

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