By Elias Cepeda
If Michael Bisping’s trash-talking mouth didn’t write checks that his fists couldn’t cash so often it’s very likely he’d be known as a British MMA pioneer with incredible work ethic and who improved greatly over the course of his career. Instead, Bisping has done his darndest to mask his real accomplishments by playing up imagined ones.
He’s campaigned, with his mouth, for a title shot for years despite losing to every top-tier fighter he’s faced and being gifted wins over less than top-tier ones. Coming into Saturday’s fight against Vitor Belfort in Sao Paulo Brazil, UFC President Dana White said that Bisping would earn a title shot against Anderson Silva with a win.
At that point, Bisping had a one fight win “streak.” Before that win, a decision against Brian Stann last September that could have easily been scored instead for Stann, Bisping lost to Chael Sonnen – who’s twice been beaten by Silva. Not long before that, Bisping walked away with a win against Jorge Rivera in a fight that he should have, in fact, lost by disqualification for his blatant and repeated fouls. His break-out UFC fight was a ludicrously bad decision win over Matt Hamill.
Every time the UFC has pushed Bisping into a fight with a fighter he’d given no indication he should be in the ring with, he’s lost. He’s said it is his destiny to be a world champion and insulted almost everyone else in his division, yet Bisping has lost to every fighter that had been or would go on to be a world champion that he’s faced.
Rashad Evans, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and now, Vitor Belfort. Bisping’s win streak is back down to zero after getting TKO’d by Belfort in the second round of their main event Saturday.
Hopefully the talk of him getting a title shot any time soon has also been knocked out. Bisping is well-rounded, fights hard, always comes in shape and promotes fights loudly and well.
The first three traits are admirable but don’t separate the Brit from dozens of other fighters in the middleweight division. It is his name recognition and nation of origin, a country that the UFC is aggressively trying to make establish itself in, that have put Bisping in title contention.
That’s unfair to the fighters who win more often and against better fighters, guys like Chris Weidman. Bisping losing to yet another person that has been starched by division champion Anderson Silva should make it impossible for even the UFC’s fantastic promotion machine to sell the world on Bisping vs. Silva fight.
The Orange County transplant landed a number of nice jabs to the face of Belfort in the first round as the Brazilian measured him up. By the end of the first, however, “The Phenom” had figured out Bisping and stalked him until he landed a head kick flush and staggered “The Count.”
Bisping, with his excellent conditioning, managed to surive the first round. Belfort came right back with another left head kick early in the second, though, and put Bisping down for good.
Post fight, Bisping exhibited the type of humility and class that he never shows leading up to fights. “Congrats to Vitor,” Bisping said afterward. “I have no excuses. I had a great training camp. He’s the better man than me tonight.”
The win was the first time Belfort has won a UFC fight that went longer than five minutes, and he showed that he’s still got some life left in his remarkable career.
Belfort is not, however, a very good trash talker. He’s a horrible one, actually. At the pre-event press conference last Thursday he shouted out, “I’m mad!” convincing no one that he was, in fact, angry.
After beating Bisping Saturday, Belfort put on the ill-fitting smack talker hat and called out light heavyweight Jon Jones, who submitted him this past summer.
“Tell that punk Chael Sonnen, get out,” Belfort said, referring to the two-time title contender that is coaching the next season of TUF opposite Jones and then fighting the champ in April. “Take him out. I want to fight Jon Jones. I need that rematch. Take that clown away. Go home.”
Sure, Sonnen has a hard-earned reputation of being a clown, on the mic and in the ring with shrill screams and submission denials, but Belfort calling out the much larger, younger, quicker champion who just made him say uncle is a bit…well, Bisping or Sonnen-like. Nontheless, Belfort is likely happy with his $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus.
C.B. Dollaway and Daniel Sarafian earned $50,000 each for their Fight of the Night as well. Dollaway walked away with the split-decision win.
Ildemar Alcantara made his UFC debut extra sweet with a rare knee-bar submission win over Wagner Prado, earning Submission of the Night honors and a bonus check.