UFC Classic Fights: Michael Bisping v Anderson Silva
By Aidan O’Connor
In this return of the weekly Classic Fights section, we will take a look at the outstanding bout between Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping and Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva which took place in 2016 at UFC Fight Night 84 in London, England.
For many this was some sort of mismatch, Anderson Silva coming in as one of the greatest of all time after a year out against Bisping who was coming off the back of 2 decision wins, one of which was a split decision. Bisping with the home crowd advantage did not let this stop him though, his confidence in the build-up was through the roof, often speaking of Silva’s drug ban and reminding him that he wouldn’t be the fighter he was without the steroids. In fact, the build-up was something of a comedy as we saw a side to Anderson Silva we hadn’t really seen before and Bisping really seemed to be getting in his head.
As Herb Dean calls the pair to the middle of the octagon, they both show great signs of respect to one another, you can even hear Silva as he says, “Good luck Mike.”
As the first round begins, the atmosphere is electric inside the O2 arena. The British fans want nothing more than to see Bisping defy the odds and defeat Silva inside the octagon tonight. Both men start off slow, trying to gage the distance and the speed of what is to be expected. Michael coming in as the aggressor from the outset, throwing punches and kicks, with Silva dodging them with his slippery style. The first minute or two was more measuring each other up than much else, Michael being the forward moving man whilst Anderson had spent most of the time next to the fence.
As the first round comes to its halfway point, there was not much to write home about. Bisping trying to find his range and Silva trying to avoid any significant strikes. This however changed near the end of the round as ‘The Spider’ pushed forward and started to land strikes of his own, this would alternate though as Bisping landed a heavy strike and appeared to drop Silva momentarily just before the round would end. As a strange gesture, Silva tried to embrace Bisping after the round and Michael was having none of that and pushed him away.
As the second round began it was evident that Bisping had gained a tremendous amount of confidence, pushing forward and letting his hands go in flurries of punches which most of which were landing. Silva however, seemed to of changed his tactics somewhat and came into the round using illusive hand and head movements to confuse his opponent.
It was evident during this round that Silva was simply waiting for Bisping to over commit to a shot and catch him with a counter punch which he would later regret as he leant back to dodge the shot from Bisping but got caught and dropped for the second time in this fight. If there was any doubt who won this round, it was put to bed with this knock down as Michael Bisping began to rain down shots to Silva on the ground with just 30 seconds left of the round. He ended the round as he started it, with pure confidence oozing out of him.
Round 3, the crowd are ready for Bisping to close the show but Silva has other ideas as he comes out of his corner and right away you could see that he now respected the power of Bisping, he looked much looser and more aggressive. In this round we saw the Anderson Silva we all expected to see from the beginning, much faster, more evasive and above all else much more clinical in his strikes. Bisping however did keep his composure throughout and seemed to be continuously reading the fight well, keeping his distance when he needed to and applying pressure when an opportunity presented itself.
Now comes the controversial part of the fight. At the end of the third with just 15 seconds left on the clock, Bisping loses his mouth guard in an exchange. The rules state that only in a lull of action would the referee intervene to return the mouth guard as this could jeopardise any momentum from a fighter.
Silva takes advantage of this and applies maximum pressure whilst throwing huge blows to the face of Bisping, Herb Dean tells him to fight and as the end of the round claxon buzzes, Silva lands a huge flying knee which knocks Bisping down to the canvas. Silva then walks away and begins celebrating, he thought the bout was over as he mounted the side of the octagon and raised his hands only for an official to tell him to get down and explain that the fight was not over. Shocked and bemused Silva argued with the referee before returning to his corner. As Silva began celebrating you can even hear the referee saying “I did not stop the fight, the fights not over” to Michael Bisping.
There are 2 factors of controversy which people say happened here. The first being that Silva took a cheap shot in landing strikes when it was evident that Bisping had lost his mouthpiece, as well as the flying knee which would’ve been devastating even with the mouthpiece in.
This however, was more of a sportsmanship issue than an official issue as the rules state that he did not have to stop fighting unless the referee was to say so. The second being that the flying knee could potentially have been a knockout blow, which would explain why Silva began to celebrate but with it happening at the exact moment the buzzer sounded, it would be impossible to tell.
Either way we were heading into the fourth round. Both fighters at different points had already claimed their stake in the fight and going by the noise from the crowd, this was already marked as a fantastic main event. After almost being knocked out cold, Bisping had to reach deep to keep himself in this fight. His face was cut, his mind likely scrambled but his heart did not let him down as he once again forced the pressure on Silva, forcing him against the cage.
Silva almost standing still as he is forced to try to avoid the incoming strikes coming from Bisping. The pair had numerous exchanges during this round but the octagon control and tempo was dictated from Bisping from the outset.
As the fifth and final round was about to begin it was evident that Silva had not performed as well as Bisping in terms of shots landed and the control during the 4 rounds, which in theory meant that if Silva wanted his hand to be lifted afterwards. He needed a knockout.
The pair exchange again, Anderson being more of an aggressor but the blood coming from Bisping’s face was clearly causing him an issue which in turn had given the referee a decision to make as he called the Dr in to check his cuts. Bisping being the absolute warrior that he is, clearly didn’t want to stop this fight due to injuries and of course clarified with the Dr that he wanted to continue. The pair embraced and got back to work. Michael had pressured Silva into the corner once again and began laying both left and right hooks to the face of Silva who responded with a beautiful front kick to the face which appeared to of rocked Bisping.
This was anybody’s fight. Silva after realising he had rocked Michael sensed blood and went after it, laying in hooks, jabs and knees whilst Michael was trying to recover.
Bisping then gained control of the fight by pressuring Silva back against the fence and throwing huge overhead punches as well as snap jabs. As the final buzzer went you could see that both fighters had left everything in octagon and there was no doubt that this fight would go down as a classic bout.
The judges all scored the fight 48-47 to the hometown hero Michael Bisping!
Not only had he defeated one of the best fighters of all time and silenced his doubters. He had also captured the hearts of thousands of fight fans around the world. For that Mr. Bisping, I salute you.
Photo Credit: Getty Images