Jeff Chiu / AP
Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 | 12:45 a.m.
Controversy emerged as the only major winner at UFC 127 Saturday in Sydney, Australia.
Both of the card’s headlining bouts ended with a proverbial asterisk. Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn fought to a majority draw in the night’s Main Event. One judge scored the welterweight bout 29-28 in favor of Fitch with the other two each tallying an even 28-28.
Michael Bisping knocked out Jorge Rivera in the second round of the night’s co-Main Event, but only after throwing an illegal knee that concussed Rivera in the first round. Bisping, who the referee penalized a point for the knee to the head of a grounded opponent, only made matters worse in the moments after his victory.
He spat in the face of a member of Rivera’s training team who mocked him in online trash-talk videos leading up to the fight. Bisping then approached a dazed Rivera and demanded an apology before the referee shielded him away.
“I got a little worked up over there,” Bisping said in the octagon following his win on UFC 127’s pay-per-view. “He talked a lot of (expletive) going into this fight and touched a few nerves. I’m a sensitive guy. I apologize for maybe going too far over there.”
The conclusion of the Main Event featured far less drama between the two competitors. Penn and Fitch calmly shook hands after hearing the decision.
Penn controlled most of the first two rounds by taking down Fitch early and excelling in the clinch. Two of the judges awarded both rounds to Penn.
The third and final stanza was a different story. Fitch took down Penn right away and unleashed his face-smashing ground-and-pound for the duration.
Two judges gave Fitch a 10-8 round, while the other scored it 10-9.
“I came back and finished out on top and did some damage on my own,” Fitch said. “I think I did enough to at least get a split decision.”
Shockingly, Penn didn’t seem to disagree with Fitch’s statement. Asked if he thought he did enough to win the fight, Penn offered a simple “no.”
Penn then expressed disappointment with how he performed in the third round.
“I think I got some dominant positions in the first and second, but he kicked my butt in the third,” Penn said. “I guess I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my career if I lost this fight. But since the Gods were nice to me and gave me a draw, if he wants to do it again, I’ll do it again.”
Uncertainty surrounded what’s next for both Penn and Fitch. The winner of their bout was supposed to receive the next title shot in the welterweight division.
With the draw, an immediate rematch appears as the more likely move.
“I’m down with whatever,” Fitch said. “I’m here to fight, and I’m here to fight the best. If my 13 wins in the UFC isn’t enough to already put me in the spot for a title shot, then whatever. I’m willing to prove myself more.”
It was the second of the UFC’s last three pay-per-view Main Events to end in a draw after Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard did the same at UFC 125. Before that, it had never happened.
As divisive as the decision was, it perhaps paled in comparison to the post-fight chatter surrounding Bisping vs. Rivera. Bisping couldn’t hold back hurling insults at Rivera even after he clearly benefited from his illegal move.
“I can’t understand how guys come in here that can’t fight three five-minute rounds,” Bisping said. “I can’t understand it, but my conditioning was a factor.”
The main card also featured two major upsets. Australian lightweight George Sotiropoulos, who had a perfect 7-0 UFC record before Saturday, fell to German Dennis Siver by unanimous decision with scores of 30-28, 30-27 and 29-28.
Welterweight Brian Ebersole, who was making his UFC debut as a late replacement for Carlos Condit, scored a unanimous decision victory over veteran Chris Lytle by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. The bout also earned Fight of the Night honors.
Below are full results from the rest of UFC 127.
Kyle Noke defeated Chris Camozzi via submission at 1:35 of the first round in a middleweight bout.
Ross Pearson won by unanimous decision over Spencer Fisher in a lightweight bout. Two judges scored it 29-28, while the third had it 30-27.
Alexander Gustafsson beat James Te Huna by submission at 4:27 of the first round in their light heavyweight matchup.
Nick Ring defeated Riki Fukuda via unanimous decision in a middleweight bout. All three judges controversially scored it 29-28 after Fukuda appeared to win the fight.
Anthony Perosh defeated Tom Blackledge via submission in a light heavyweight bout at 2:45 of the first round.
Tiequan Zhang defeated Jason Reinhardt via submission at 0:48 in the first round of their featherweight fight.
Mark Hunt knocked out Chris Tuchscherer in their heavyweight bout at 1:41 of the second round.
Curt Warburton scored a unanimous-decision win against Maciej Jewtuszko. All three judges scored it 29-28.