NEWARK, NJ -- In his biggest fight to date, Alan Belcher came up flat. Against Michael Bisping, that will almost never do. The quick and conditioned Brit usually overwhelms with activity, and that's essentially the formula he used to take control of his UFC 159 co-main event matchup.
It was all going his way until a late eye poke stopped the fight before the final bell. As per the unified rules, due to the unintentional but illegal strike, the fight goes to the judges' cards, and Bisping was awarded a unanimous technical decision, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Bisping is now 24-5. Belcher has lost two in a row, and is now 18-8.
Bisping was throwing a sweeping left hook when his fingers raked across Belcher's right eye. Belcher immediately went down, holding his eye while ref Herb Dean stopped the fight to bring in the cageside doctor, who called a halt to the action. Belcher had blood streaming from near his right eye after the incident.
The right eye was the same one that required emergency surgery back in 2010, a procedure that briefly threatened his career.
Bisping apologized for the foul, but attributed the win to his overall fitness level and desire to get back into the win column. He had been knocked out by Vitor Belfort in his last fight.
"I started getting into my rhythm. I'm hungry," he said. "This is a dream come true. I'm living the dream. That's why I fight this hard."