With Michael Bisping recently announcing his retirement I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at his hall of fame career. Bisping broke into MMA in 2004, gaining a lot of steam on the UK MMA scene with championship winning performances in Cage Rage and Cage Warriors. His success there led to his eventual inclusion in the Ultimate Fighter season 3, and as many people know he would go on to win that tournament and embark on one of the most successful MMA careers to date.
Bisping was well known early in his career for his loud mouth, but his ability to generally back it up led him to earn a great deal of notoriety. People heard him talk, and because of it they really wanted to see him lose. The problem was that he usually didn’t, and his early career consisted of notable wins over Elvis Sinosic, Matt Hamill, and Chris Leben. It wasn’t until he faced Dan Henderson in his 19th pro fight that he suffered his first decisive loss, it was via KO and it was brutal, on what was at the time the biggest PPV in MMA history.
Despite a shocking loss, Bisping would move forward and he would enjoy a great deal of success throughout the middle of his UFC career. He would win 5 of 6 fights following the Henderson loss and was coming off back to back TKO stoppage victories when he faced Chael Sonnen in what was his second official title eliminator bout. Sonnen won, and again Bisping was forced to deal with a devastating loss that derailed his title hopes. This time though things were a bit different, the fight was very close and could have gone either way. Bisping lost, but as always, he moved forward.
After alternating wins and losses for several years, it seemed as though Bisping’s best days were likely behind him. He went 3-3 following the Sonnen loss and was far from any bodies minds when it came to potential title contenders. What nobody knew at the time was that the best was still yet to come. Starting with a win over CB Dollaway in 2015, Bisping would go on a three-fight winning streak that saw him defeat the greatest middleweight of his day, Anderson Silva. And then Bisping’s durability and his lifelong dedication to the sport finally paid off.
Luke Rockhold was originally scheduled to face Chris Weidman in a rematch from their UFC 194 encounter. But when Weidman went down with an injury just days from the event, it was “The Count” that answered the call. Bisping took the fight on 10 days’ notice against Rockhold, a man that already had a decisive, submission victory over him. But if the previous loss left Bisping with any lingering mental effects going into the rematch, it certainly didn’t show. Bisping knocked out the much younger Rockhold in the first round, first dropping him with a right hand that he followed up with a perfect left hook. Rockhold went down, and Bisping followed. Only seconds later, in only a matter of moments Michael Bisping achieved his life long dream, the UFC got its first British World Champion, and the fans got to see the climax of an incredible story that started all the way back in 2004 when Bisping was still in London, wondering if Martial Arts was even a real job.