Belfort ended the first round well, wobbling Bisping with a head kick followed by aggressive punches and knees. The round ended before Belfort could put Bisping in real danger, but it was a sign of things to come.
In the second round, Belfort landed another head kick, but this one sent Bisping to the ground. Belfort followed with several strikes on the ground until the fight was stopped at 1:27 in the second round.
Bisping, who got into a heated exchange with Belfort during a pre-fight press conference, was humble in defeat.
"It was a beautiful kick. He caught me. He was better than me tonight," he said after the fight.
Bisping was hoping for a big win so that he could get a chance at Anderson Silva and the UFC middleweight belt. In his Yahoo! Sports pre-fight blog, Bisping said his motivation for wanting to fight Belfort was simple.
"He’s trying to take my title shot off me. He’s trying to take my family’s security off me," Bisping wrote.
But now it's unlikely he'll get near a title shot any time soon. Bisping is 1-2 in his last three fights. Though he's been in the UFC since 2006, this fight was his best chance of earning a shot at the title.
Belfort fought for the middleweight title in 2011 and light heavyweight title in 2012. He lost both times, but didn't hesitate to ask for a title shot in his post-fight interview.
"I want that belt. Get that punk Chael Sonnen out. Let me fight Jon Jones! Not that clown!"
Sonnen, who has fought at light heavyweight in the UFC since 2005, is fighting for the UFC light heavyweight belt against champion Jones in April.
Dolloway, Gonzaga, Nurmagomedov notch wins
C.B. Dolloway took a thrilling win in the co-main event over Daniel Sarafian, who was making his UFC debut. The judges saw it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Dolloway, who came back to win the fight after not having a great start. Sarafian easily took the first round. He slowed Dolloway down early in the round, and got the better of exchanges throughout.
Sarafian owned the second round with big punches, but almost lost late in the round. Dolloway hit Sarafian with an uppercut, and then swarmed with several more strikes on the ground. The horn to sound the end of the round saved Sarafian from a stoppage that looked seconds away.
Dolloway started out the third round well with takedowns and much better positioning, but Sarafian swept to get on late. Sarafian took Dolloway's back, but couldn't get in a rear naked choke. Then Dolloway reversed position as the fight ended. His record moves to 13-4.
Gabriel Gonzaga's condition deep into a fight is often a problem, but he didn't have to worry about it with a second-round submission win over Ben Rothwell. After outstriking and outwrestling Rothwell in the first, Gonzaga grabbed an arm-in guillotine from the standing position. To get more leverage, Gonzaga jumped guard. He cinched Rothwell with his legs and tightened the guillotine. Rothwell tapped at 1:01 in the second round.
This is the second straight win for Gonzaga since returning to the UFC. Both have come by submission.
Khabib Nurmagomedov started the main card off with a quick and exciting win over Thiago Tavares. Nurmagomedov dropped Tavares with an uppercut, and then finished with several elbows. The fight was stopped at 1:55 in the first round, though not quickly enough for UFC president Dana White, who tweeted, "Ok that is officially the END of Dan M!!!! Guys head is straight up his [expletive] 2 night!!!! 17 vicious strikes!!!! After he was already hurt"
With this win, Nurmagomedov has three straight wins in the UFC, and an overall record of 19-0.
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