The fight game in MMA is unique. Great athletes appear and disappear in this sport more quickly than any other. Injuries can sideline careers permanently in other sports but in mixed martial arts all it can sometime take is 2 losses back to back. An athlete can still be in peak fighting condition after a loss with many years ahead of them, but the fall from good graces of a promotion can often permanently shut down potential greatness. I have a small list of favorite MMA fighters I regulary keep an eye on and watch their fights. The longest running fighter on that list is Michael Bisping.
I first discovered Bisping while watching season 3 of the Ultimate Fighter. It was on that show I became familiar with the British fighter who would later go on to win the UFC contract awarded to the finalist who won the final fight of the series. Bisping was confident and calculated in the octagon, believing in himself and that his abilities should take him to the UFC and eventually a title shot. From the beginning he made it perfectly clear that his eyes were set on winning the belt in his division. Most fighters on a 4 fight win streak in the UFC have a title shot argument hard to ignore, but in his 5th appearance for the promotion Bisping suffered a split decision loss to Rashad Evans which would set his chance at the title back. He would go on to win 3 more consecutive victories before suffering another loss and another setback at UFC gold.
Bisping would continue fighting, most of his battles and wins coming from top 10 competition and his losses only to legends and future legends of the sport. In his last UFC appearance he fought Anderson Silva, a once thought unstoppable former UFC title holder. Silva, despite coming off a loss to fight Bisping, was still as deadly as he ever once was. A deadly and unpredictable fighter with knockout power who had punished other greats in his reign as champion. I don't remember reading any articles anywhere that said Bisping had any chance. I was at a family gathering the day the fight would take place. My cousins put on the fight and with all my relatives there, many who had never watched the UFC or any MMA for that matter, Michael Bisping did the impossible and beat Silva by a unanimous decision victory.
The fight was 5 rounds of one of the most brutal and harrowing events I have ever watched in the UFC. Often times Silva would look better but had a problem engaging Bisping. Bisping kept coming forward no matter what was thrown at him, taking a beating but giving out more than he was given. Cut up and bloody he absorbed elbows, kicks and a knee to the face which was close to ending the fight. The knee came right as the bell sounded ending the 3rd round and Bisping kneeled to the ground which Silva misinterpreted that he had won the fight and began to celebrate. Clearly thinking he had won the fight he mounted the top of the cage not listening to anyone telling him to get down and the fight wasn't over. When it finally registered that Bisping wasn't finished, the shock on his face was priceless and one of my favorite moments in MMA. His eyes got as big as baseballs and you could hear him exclaim "WHAT??!?!" Bisping grinded out the last 2 rounds displaying more heart, courage and tenacity than most other fighters would have under the circumstance. No matter what he kept coming forward determined to beat Silva and make his case for a shot at the belt. After 5 rounds the judges announced him the winner and I was absolutely thrilled.
Bisping, as expected, once more began publicly making his case for UFC gold. A rematch between former champion Chris Weidman and current champ Luke Rockhold had already been set up and Bisping would have to wait for a chance. On March 18th in the early morning, I checked for combat sports news and saw that Weidman was hurt in training and would not be able to compete. Many argued that Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza deserved the next shot but he had just come off of a fight injured and needing surgery. Bisping got the call and at the next pay per view will be fighting for a championship.
Again, the odds are against Bisping who already holds one loss against the champion Luke Rockhold. But Bisping has never been one to turn down a fight, even more so in this case. Many are saying he's done and has no chance. I doubt he cares what anyone is saying. Bisping has been one of my favorites since 2007 when I was introduced to him on television. My money is on him and I can't wait to see the man who bravely fights on and keeps coming forward.