Michael Bisping: A Career Profile Part 5
By James Lee
Filming “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” in Thailand, Bisping was having time off from training with a scheduled middleweight title fight booked for the summer at UFC 199 involving Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman. His plan was to film the movie in Thailand and vow for a title shot upon returning to training.
As May 19th 2016 rolled around, news broke that Chris Weidman had injured himself in training camp, thus forcing him out of the fight. With multiple fighters considered like Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero, destiny prevailed.
The fight was announced. Michael Bisping would be fighting for a world championship. His first attempt at the UFC gold had a date. June 4th. With only 17 days to prepare, the odds were highly stacked against him but he believed. Maybe just him.
“Rockhold has this air of invincibility mentally right now as well… never more confident.” Michael Bisping retreats towards the cage. Bay Area’s own presses with a jab. “Ohhh he got rocked…. He hurt him bad, and again. Michael Bisping is the new UFC middleweight champion of the world!!!”
Left hook Larry had prevailed. Swooping over the right shoulder of the champion. Blitzing the button. Turning the dreams of a fighting nation into reality.
“Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. That’s why this is a crazy sport ladies and gentleman, because anything can happen, at any given moment…. And you’re just sitting at home watching this and you go holy shit!” The voice of Joe Rogan echoed across the fighting world as the 6/1 underdog marvelled gloriously, bathing in the pride of the people surrounding him and those back home after causing a crash in the system of his opponent.
Back home, thousands across the United Kingdom buzzed, whilst weary eyed, as the country’s greatest achievement in the sport drew itself upon them.
“They’re celebrating in England right now baby, that Brit is the best at 185.” The climb conquered…
With his family, manager and coaches in the octagon, Bisping stood overwhelmed, finding it difficult to speak, knowing his life work had amounted to less than four minutes in the cage. Thousands of hours of work, all worth it for that one moment.
22 years from his first training session. Bruce Buffer announced Michael Bisping as the new middleweight champion.
Work didn’t stop after the title victory. With multiple challenges and challengers ahead, Bisping seized an opportunity presented to him to avenge his most devastating outing.
Days after the title victory, reports flew in that the UFC were interested in booking the rematch with Dan Henderson. In a dramatic change of circumstances, Bisping had the belt and Henderson was doing the chasing.
Soon after the speculation, the bout was agreed for UFC 204. With no better place for Bisping’s first title defence, Manchester Arena was selected. The same venue where Bisping played with his young son after defeating Denis Kang at UFC 105. The same venue where Bisping dismantled Elvis Sinosic in his third ever UFC fight. The same venue where British boxing legends such as: Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Prince Naseem Hamed and many others have cemented their legacy.
A venue tied so closely to the city. The perfect venue for greatness. The perfect platform for stardom. The perfect platform for Michael Bisping.
With the knockout blow haunting Bisping for years, the bravery to take the fight was immense. A knockout loss could have seen the end of his career. His legacy tainted by one man. With all the pressure on Clitheroe’s finest, he took it in his stride, knowing a victory would enhance his own legacy.
16,000 tickets sold out in seconds. Fans from across Europe travelled to the heart of Manchester. To witness the first title defence of the local hero. October 8th was set in the calendar.
At 5.00am local time, Song 2 boomed through Manchester and the fighting world. The locals stayed up and sold out the event even with the unusual timing of the event. Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping stood in the cage together for the second time. Ready for war in Henderson’s final ever fight.
The first round stunned the crowd in attendance. Bisping implemented his usual high pace game plan, using his footwork to evade strikes. 262 seconds in, Henderson unleashed another right hand that nearly destroyed Bisping’s career. The blow landed clean on the chin of the Englishman, sprawling him out onto the canvas. Many fighters would have been out, but Bisping recovered, even smiling 40 seconds later.
The second round was also dramatic. The same thing happened with Henderson dropping Bisping, but he recovered and did well the rest of the round. The third and fourth saw Bisping take over. He achieved the range he needed. He didn’t hurt Henderson, but he began to hit him, using his footwork to evade the American.
The fifth round was close, making for a tough decision for the judges. Bloodied and bruised in the cage, Bisping was named the victor and revenge was complete.
For years, fans had mocked him for the knockout loss at UFC 100. In some areas, he was most well known for the knockout loss. All the pain and mockery had been turned around in the ultimate comeback. From lying cold on the Mandalay Bay floor to standing tall at the Manchester Arena. Michael Bisping had accomplished something many thought he never could.
Calls for retirement have surrounded Bisping since his first loss to Rockhold. If he would have given in then, his legacy wouldn’t have been anywhere near what it is now.
Despite retirement calls, he decided to headline UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden against Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre is one of the greatest fighters of all time. He dominated the 170lbs division, achieving a multitude of title defences before retiring in 2013. He returned at UFC 217, looking to claim another UFC title upon his return to the octagon.
During the first stage of his fighting career, GSP enthralled crowds with his dominance. The Canadian was obsessed. Fearful of losing. Notable wins over Nick Diaz and Matt Hughes left Canadian fans reeling for his return since November 2013.
The victor was looking to be recognised as one of the best in history.
Unfortunately for the British fans, Bisping fell short. The Canadian caught the Brit in the third round and sunk in a rear naked choke. The ending portrays the career of Bisping. He wouldn’t tap. He wouldn’t quit.
Surprisingly, Bisping took a fight just three weeks after losing his belt. After Anderson Silva was pulled from a fight with Kelvin Gastelum in Shanghai, the former middleweight champion asked to fight Gastelum. A huge risk and one which backfired. The short notice bout caught up with the Englishman, who was finished by a devastating left hand.
The end came for the fighting journey after China. His fighting legacy is complete. Thirty nine professional fights, seven countries. Fighting men from the favelas of Brazil to the streets of Stoke. Michael Bisping has fought everybody ever offered.
With the fighting career over, a new journey has arose. One where Bisping has found success on television and his other several outlets. The hard work of Bisping will find success in any walk of life.
One thing is for sure, Michael Bisping will be respected for years to come. The protagonist for United Kingdom mixed martial arts. The first English UFC champion. A legend of the sport.