Kennedy said he was looking to finish Bisping in the fight, but couldn’t find the right opportunity to land the knockout or secure the submission that would grant him the stoppage. Instead, judges saw the contest in Kennedy’s favor with scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45.
“I hit Mike with my best shots,” Kennedy said in his post-fight interview. “Things weren’t clicking, so my hats off to him as an opponent. I just have great respect for him. I got a long way to go. I’m still getting better with every fight … I’m just going to keep getting better.”
Soon after the opening bell, Kennedy shot in for a takedown and worked to accomplish maneuver against the cage. Bisping fended off the takedown, but Kennedy eventually secured the fight to the ground. Kennedy suffocated his opponent from top position, controlling the fight with his grappling efforts through the end of the round.
The second round began with both athletes fighting conservatively and with little offense. Kennedy landed two punches in a clinch and later a slapping head kick, but didn’t apply the same pressure to secure the takedowns he was scoring in the previous round. Bisping was able to land more strike combinations than his opponent for the remainder of the time period.
Kennedy opened up the third round with a overhand right and single-leg takedown. From top position, Kennedy worked from half guard to side control to full mount, all while filling gaps with strikes. Bisping worked to escape from bottom, but Kennedy’s grappling game proved too strong as the round’s time expired.
Much like the second round, Bisping fended off Kennedy’s takedowns in an effort to keep the fight standing in the fourth frame. Bisping peppered Kennedy against the cage in moments when he was able to measure his distance. Kennedy, however, countered with looping power shots, connecting on two occasions and forcing Bisping to backpedal. Each fighter went to their corners with blood dripping from their noses.
Kennedy secured a trip takedown a minute into the final round, and smothered Bisping to control the pace of the fight. As he was largely inactive while in top position, the referee told Kennedy to stand and forced the fight to the feet, where both fighters traded strikes for the remainder of the fight.
With the win, Kennedy improves to 18-4 and 3-0 in the UFC.
(Follow @Erik_Fontanez on Twitter)