Michael Bisping: A Career Profile Part 4
By James Lee
From Belfort to Silva
After the Belfort loss, Bisping won two out of his next three fights. A comfortable victory over Alan Belcher in New Jersey was followed by a lacklustre performance against Tim Kennedy in a five round fight. Another wrestler lay on the Englishman for a lot of the fight, draining the fans and the clock. A difficult way to lose. No damage, just out-wrestled.
The loss was followed by a dominant victory in China. A destructive knee finished Cung Le, which earned him another performance bonus. Although Bisping was back to winning ways, Cung Le wasn’t an opponent that was going to push him towards the title.
With his career stalling, Bisping met the man who changed everything: Luke Rockhold.
The Strikeforce middleweight champion. The prospect. Arguably the best middleweight in the world. Hunting for Weidman, Rockhold met veteran Bisping in Sydney coming in as a huge favourite.
Entering the UFC at twenty-eight, Rockhold came on the scene with great potential, especially after defeating Tim Kennedy and Jacare Souza in Strikeforce.
Possessing raw talent, the whole middleweight division took notice once Rockhold entered the UFC in 2013.
The talk flowed freely on the planes of Sydney. But after the talk dried, the men had to fight.
Rockhold began confidently, gliding across the cage as he looked to set up his trademark left kick. Ninety seconds in, a head clash left Bisping with a bad cut above his left eye. Bisping was left with damaged sight and early into the second, Rockhold landed a left high kick and finished the bout on the ground with a guillotine.
Bisping returned after five months, coming back to face UFC veteran CB Dollaway and after the Dollaway victory, Bisping headlined a big card in Glasgow in which he defeated Thales Leites in the electrifying the SSE Hydro Arena.
The victory allowed Bisping through the gate for the third time. A gate that set up a fight against the man he had wanted to fight since he entered the UFC. The Spider.
Bisping saw Anderson Silva conquer the UK scene in the early noughties. He was taking out high profile fighters like Lee Murray and Jorge Rivera in British promotion Cage Rage before earning his spot in the UFC. Upon claiming the belt in his second UFC fight, Silva continued to demoralise his competition. Bisping looked on, unsure he would ever face him, but confident he would beat him if he did.
From October 14th 2006 until July 6th 2013, Silva kept the middleweight belt, defending it ten times, as well as winning four non-title fights without defeat. A sense of mystique surrounded Silva, with fans adamant he couldn’t be beaten.
This came to a halt when he met American wrestler Chris Weidman. Showboating to the crowd, Silva danced, pretending to be hurt by Weidman, ultimately looking to humiliate. But it was him who caught the wrong end of a looping left hook that changed his legacy forever. The rematch saw Anderson suffer a horrific leg injury mid fight.
Upon returning after UFC 183, Silva came to London’s O2 Arena to face Michael Bisping. Blur bellowed around the arena as the Englishman entered, ready for war and to cause a seismic shock to the community.
DMX led the Brazilian to the cage; a different tone to his opponent. Silva looked mellow and calm. Bisping looked fire up and ready. The crowd were not ready for what would follow that night.
Bisping outworked Silva in the first two rounds. He used his footwork and movement to evade the Brazilian, even managing to drop the former middleweight champion with a left hand.
The third round was similar to the second apart from the final moments. Bisping’s mouth guard fell on the canvas, distracting the Brit whilst Silva kept pressing. As Bisping turned to referee Herb Dean, Silva flew through the air cracking his chin with a flying knee and sent him crashing down.
Silva walked off believing he had won. He hadn’t. The bell had gone for the end of the third round and Bisping was still in the fight despite being badly hurt. With 60 seconds to recover, many fighters wouldn’t be able to. The resilience shone. The Count came back to win the fourth round, surprising the fans, holding on to a vital decision victory despite a tough fifth round.
As his name was declared the victor, Bisping gestured happily, before respecting Anderson Silva. He had finally defeated the man who had dominated his division for years. A dream into reality. A victory that put him close to the title. A title shot in unexpected circumstances however.