The shocking upsets have been far more prevalent in the UFC thus far in the year 2016 and UFC 199 was no different. Headlined by the biggest shocker we hadn’t seen in some time, the longtime veteran, Michael Bisping had finally secured himself a title shot and the end result was one you’d expect to see in a movie.
Michael Bisping sat atop the the octagon’s fence with his arms over his head as the crowd grew louder at the sight at hand. Luke Rockhold’s nonchalant walk into his first title defense was absent as he leaned agains the cage staring at the replay of the moment his title and consciousness were snatched away courtesy of the Count. Bisping came into his rematch against Rockhold with only two weeks of preparation and just a few months away from picking up his highest profile victory against the former longtime middleweight champion, Anderson Silva. The decision win was met with controversy, which according to the oddsmakers, only hurt his chances in defeating the man who submitting him two years earlier.
Bisping’s timing has never been his strong suit as he continuously lost bouts that would have earned him a title shot in the past. Timing could not have been any better for the 37 year old smaller framed middleweight who had just finished filming on a movie set and who has undergone five eye surgeries as a result of a detached retina he suffered in his knockout loss against Vitor Belfort in 2013. Bisping was past his prime and constantly reminded of it by fans and the media who collectively recognized him as one of the best UFC competitors to have never touched UFC gold.
The backhanded compliment was based on being realistic, but in the sport of MMA, anything can happen when two competitors are swinging four ounce leather gloves. For Luke Rockhold, his signature kicks were all he needed to hurt Bisping in their last encounter, which was why he felt that Bisping had nothing for him. The verbal barrage traded between both men leading up to their second encounter only furthered the champion’s belief that he’d go on to punish the Brit once again.
Some say fighting is only half the battle as the mental side of MMA is considered a significant element. Bisping’s acknowledgement on the leaps and bounds made in his mental preparation is one that has been overlooked as it appears we are witnessing a much more technically sound fighter. Bisping’s decision victory over Thales Leites last year was an impressive one as he managed to recover and regain control of the bout after being rocked. His win over Silva was one that saw him nearly get finished by a flying knee at the end of the third round. Despite controlling much of the fight, Bisping had two rounds to prove he was the better man and he did just that despite the damage he had sustained.
The battle scars were recognized as reasons why Bisping’s chin was questioned and rightfully so. Bisping was not supposed to defeat the man who had held victories over him, Jazare Souza, Tim Kennedy Lyoto Machida, and Chris Weidman. All the aforementioned names would likely be favored to defeat Bisping if given the opportunity. Not only did he win the big one, he did it in knock out fashion without a mark on his face. The upset win is not just a reason why MMA is so complex but instead should be a lesson to all that the days of long term champions are numbered whether it’s because of strict drug testing or an increase in the level of competition. No matter how long Bisping’s reign lasts and despite his questionable actions in his career, it’s nice to see the little guy get a big win every now and again.