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Michael Bisping Defeated Anderson Silva in a Bizarre, Back-and-Forth UFN 84 Main Event

(We promise, this photo is only misleading if you haven’t seen the fight yet. Or if you happen to be Anderson Silva. via Getty.)

It’s crazy to think that a showdown between two of the UFC’s longest-standing and most well known middleweights went almost completely uncovered in the wake of UFC 196′s main event switcheroo, but that’s exactly what happened with Fight Night 84. The power of Mystic Mac truly knows no bounds.

Fortunately for those of us who turned in, Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping turned out to be one of the more bizarre main eventers in promotional history — right up there with “Silva vs. Diaz” or “Silva vs. Leites” or… well, you get the point. It was a fight that showed both Bisping’s unexpected, late-career resurgence, a former champion’s steady decline, and depending on who you ask, the continued incompetence of MMA judges and the scoring system in general, so head below for all the details and highlights.

Where to begin with this fight. I know, how about the fact that for the first two and a half rounds, Anderson Silva seemed more content to do the hand jive than throw any strikes of significance?

It would be an obvious observation to say that Silva’s bizarre performance showed shades of his fights with Leites and Demian Maia, but on a more fundamental level, his strategy was also eerily reminiscent of Strikeforce-era Fedor Emelianenko. Rather than relying on smooth, multi-punch combinations to set up the fight-ending shot like he had in his time as champion, Silva opted to headhunt, becoming so over-reliant on his power (not to mention, completely unconcerned with Bisping’s) that it became a crutch.

It’s entirely possible that this was Silva’s way of making up for the speed he has lost over the past couple of years, but the problem was, Bisping was markedly quicker to the punch than Silva and the results — early on, at least — were several exchanges like the one above.

Unfortunately for Silva, a declining reaction time coupled with a complete lack of respect for his opponent’s punching power nearly came back to bite him in the ass (again). Near the end of the second round, Silva was forced to stop clowning around and actually start treating his fight like, you know, a fight, compliments of a Bisping left hand that floored him.

They say that speed is the first thing to go in the life of a combat sports athlete and your chin second, an assertion which appears to be the case for “The Spider.” Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself writing about how Pillowhands Bisping nearly KO’d the same guy who let Ryan Bader tee off on him in the TUF gym just a few years ago, but there you have it.

This takes us to the truly weirdest moment in the fight, wherein a mouthpiece-less Bisping attempted to call a time-out, only to have Silva knock him dead with a flying knee in the confusion. What followed was a momentary lapse in judgement that saw Silva go full Cyborg and celebrate prematurely while a battered Bisping stumble his way to his stool. I really can’t say whether or not the fight should have been called off and declared a victory for Silva right then and there, but the fact that Bisping was able to answer the fourth round bell seems to indicate that Herb Dean made the right no-call.

It was around the midway point of the fourth round that Silva decided to actually start taking things seriously, and believe it or not, it worked! Who woulda thunkit? Silva’s combination work in the fourth round was on point; he brutalized Bisping with knees to the body, mixed up his punches, and even rocked Bisping with a front kick reminiscent of the one he used to knock out Vitor Belfort. Has he utilized such a strategy in the first 15 minutes of the fight, I’m sure that he would have put Busping away with the highlight reel finish we were expecting of him, but lo, such is the mystery of Anderson Silva.

Ultimately, the flashes of his old self that Silva was able to display were simply too few and far between, which is why the judges ultimately awarded Bisping the much-deserved win across the board. What followed was a tremendous display of respect between the two middleweights.

As you might expect, however, Silva was none-to-happy with the verdict and made it known in his post-fight interview.

“Brazil, here’s the deal. If you can’t win one way, they try to take it away from you another,” said Silva in his native tongue. “That’s it. You saw how it went down, right? So I have nothing to say. I fought for you and that’s it. Thank you for the support. My family, I’m coming back home. I’m all right. That’s it. Mission accomplished, but sometimes things are just like in Brazil — Totally corrupted.”

And indeed, there are legions of fans who took to Twitter following the decision to lament how badly Silva had been screwed over, citing Bisping’s busted up face and near-KO suffered in the final second of the third round as evidence. Those people are what we call “wrong.” While we can lament the ineffectiveness of the 10-point must system until the cows come home, the fact remains that, by current judging standards, Bisping still dominated the first two rounds entirely and 4:59 of the third, making him the winner of the fight according to anyone with even a cursory understanding of how MMA scoring works.

Basically, Silva can bitch and moan all he wants about the “corruption” of the judging system — an argument not without its merits, given the hometown victory that Brad Pickett received earlier in the night — but perhaps he should have considered that while clearly underestimating his opponent for the first three rounds of a five round fight. It’s simple math, really.

As it stands though, Michael Bisping has strung together the first three fight win streak of his career since 2011 and has probably earned the middleweight title shot that has long eluded him. For Silva fans, it’s just the latest in a string of disappointments that so often mark the decline of a former great. For Bisping fans, it was arguably the greatest moment in British MMA history. For those of us who will never be able to shake the image of Bisping being an unbearable asshole, it’s kind of a win-win, if you think about it…I mean, just look at what Luke Rockhold did to him the first time around.

The full results for Fight Night 84 are below.

Main card
Michael Bisping def. Anderson Silva via unanimous decision
Gegard Mousasi def. Thales Leites via unanimous decision
Tom Breese def. Keita Nakamura via unanimous decision
Brad Pickett def. Francisco Rivera via split decision

Makwan Amirkhani def. Mike Wilkinson via unanimous decision
Davey Grant def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision
Scott Askham def. Chris Dempsey via KO (head kick) at 4:45 of round 1
Arnold Allen def. Yaotzin Meza via unanimous decision
Krzysztof Jotko def. Bradley Scott via unanimous decision
Rustam Khabilov def. Norman Parke via unanimous decision
Daniel Omielanczuk def. Jarjis Danho via majority decision
Teemu Packalen def. Thibault Gouti via submission (rear naked choke) at :24 of round 1
David Teymur def. Martin Svensson via TKO (punches) at 1:26 of round 2

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