Since winning The Ultimate Fighter season 3, England’s Michael Bisping has made his presence known in the MMA world.
Bisping has compiled a stellar 9-3 record since joining the UFC’s roster, with six of those victories coming by TKO stoppage.
Next weekend, Bisping will headline UFC 120 in his homeland of London, England against Yoshihiro Akiyama. To English fans, Bisping is a larger than life superstar and the man who helped put British MMA on the map.
But throughout his entire UFC career, it seems as if the organization has overhyped the Brit due to his significance in the U.K market. I’m not implying that Bisping isn’t a talented fighter, because he certainly is. He’s a very precise striker with solid takedown defense and a vastly underrated ground game. But he’s constantly marketed as a future title contender despite never beating a top-tier opponent.
As a light heavyweight, Bisping destroyed his first three opponents. He then won a controversial decision over Ultimate Fighter rival Matt Hamill that hardly anyone, outside of the judges, believed he won. A decision loss to eventual champion Rashad Evans followed and Bisping decided to drop to the middleweight division.
The Bisping hype-train was again in full effect. After Bisping viciously disposed of Charles McCarthy and Jason Day, people were calling him a threat to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. A unanimous decision win over Chris Leben launched Bisping into a contender’s fight with Dan Henderson at UFC 100.
It was supposed to be Bisping’s coming out party. UFC President Dana White even hinted that if Bisping defeated Henderson, he would probably fight Silva for the title in England. Unfortunately, Henderson’s powerful right hand nearly knocked Bisping’s head into the stands. It was a demoralizing loss that exposed Bisping as a fighter clearly not ready for a title shot.
Since the Henderson loss, the hype around Bisping has drastically reduced. Ironically, it may be to the point where fans are actually underestimating his abilities. He may not be the world-class contender he was hyped up as, but he’s still a handful for many fighters in the division.
Since the Henderson loss, Bisping has gone 2-1 in the Octagon with impressive wins over Denis Kang and Dan Miller. He lost a razor-thin decision to Wanderlei Silva in Australia, but still put on a good showing against the former PRIDE legend.
Many fans are under the impression that Bisping doesn’t stand a chance against the top middleweights in the world and I don’t think that is entirely true. He was doing fairly well against Henderson up until the end and came very close to defeating Silva.
Bisping definitely isn’t a top ranked fighter, but let’s not count him out entirely against those who are. Despite a shocking loss to Chris Leben at UFC 116, Akiyama is still considered a top tier middleweight. If Bisping can beat the judoka this weekend at UFC 120, he should be considered a top middleweight fighter.