WHAT IF? What if Michael Bisping had beaten Chael Sonnen? How would careers have changed and which fights would have happened?

By Nate Nasworthy, MMATorch Specialist

Michael Bisping (art credit Grant Gould © MMATorch)

During 2011, Michael Bisping was on a three fight win streak and coaching the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter against Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Bisping won the coaches fight and increased his win streak to four. Chael Sonnen was coming off his suspension from the Anderson Silva fight and had beaten Brian Stann. Both were scheduled to fight at the second UFC on Fox card, but against different opponents. Things changed very quickly.

After Anderson Silva’s come from behind victory at UFC 117 against Chael Sonnen, a rematch was wanted from the two fighters and fight fans alike. However, a suspension to Sonnen changed those plans. After he returned, Sonnen defeated Brian Stann and subsequently called out Anderson Silva again. At the time, Mark Munoz was on a four fight win streak and a no. 1 Contender’s Fight was set for UFC on Fox 2. Eleven days before the fight, Mark Munoz pulled out of the fight due to an injury and the UFC scrambled for a replacement. Michael Bisping, who was facing Demian Maia on the same card, was promoted to the no. 1 Contender fight. Chris Weidman stepped in to face Demian Maia.

It was a tough fight to call for fans. Chael Sonnen was the guy who had figured out Anderson Silva and had the best trash talking game in the world. Michael Bisping was the Ultimate Fighter winner who could win fights, but froze in big moments. It was a toss-up.

During the fight, Sonnen was able to use some ground game, but Bisping was able to control the fight on the feet. I was a fan of Silva-Sonnen 2. However, I believed Bisping had won the fight. The decision was announced as a Unanimous Decision for Sonnen. I was confused, but excited for the rematch. Silva ended up beating Sonnen in the rematch and Bisping’s time finally came at UFC 199 against Luke Rockhold.

But, what if Michael Bisping had received the decision against Chael Sonnen?

UFC 148 would have been Silva vs. Bisping instead of Silva vs. Sonnen. And I believe Bisping would have won. In the rematch against Sonnen, Silva was as focused as he had ever been. But, if it were Bisping, I think Silva would have continued with his “cocky” and “playful” fighting style. Bisping would have caught him and won the title. A rematch with Silva would be immediate and I think he would have retained the title. After that, Bisping’s first real title defense would be against Chris Weidman. Chris Weidman defeats Bisping to become the new champion.

Sonnen’s path would have been a little different. Obviously, the Silva rematch would have to wait. Sonnen’s first fight after the loss would be against Mark Munoz. Sonnen wins the fight and calls out Anderson again. Bisping wins the title and the rematch is announced. Sonnen decides to wait his turn for Anderson until he is presented with a fight against Chris Weidman. Weidman defeats him on his way to winning the title. Silva-Sonnen 2 finally happens with Silva coming out on top again.

I was really happy with the way things played out, but I think it would be satisfying for fight fans to have seen Bisping win the title much earlier than he did.

CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WHAT IF… Fedor Emelianenko came to the UFC in his prime?

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