UFC on FX 7 Belfort vs. Bisping: 5 Questions We Have About Michael Bisping
UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping is almost upon us, and the hype is really starting to pick up for this very important main event bout. The staredown after the press conference between Bisping and Belfort was even more intense than we expected it to be, and now, we're just waiting for these two warriors to step into the cage.
They'll do so on Friday night in the main event on FX. The middleweights are believed to be in somewhat of a middleweight contendership bout, which adds to the importance of the fight. If Bisping wins, most expect that he will earn a UFC title fight against Anderson Silva.
As a veteran in the sport, Michael Bisping has always teetered on the edge of being an elite fighter, but has never fully cemented himself at the top of the sport. Apparently Dana White and Joe Silva have as many questions about Bisping as the rest of us do as he has not ever been given a UFC title fight before.
These questions have always held Bisping back, and he'll hope to answer them on Saturday night.
Here are the five most important questions that we have about Michael Bisping going into his fight against Vitor Belfort.
Can His Chin Stand Up to Vitor Belfort's Power?
He might be one of the most talented middleweight fighters who has ever competed, but for the doubters, the picture of him getting violently knocked out by Dan Henderson years ago will probably never be forgotten.
It was the most devastating loss of Bisping's career and one that knocked him out of serious title contention for quite some time. Despite the fact that he had never been knocked out before then nor since, there is still a belief that Bisping may be just one punch away from being knocked out in any fight.
Vitor Belfort has finished 14 of his 21 career wins by way of knockout. His punching power will certainly test Bisping's chin.
Does He Have One-Punch Knockout Power of His Own?
The opposite side of the knockout conversation is whether or not Michael Bisping himself has true knockout power.
The Brit has earned TKO victories against his opponent in 14 of his 23 career wins, but he hasn't had that highlight reel, one-punch knockout at any point during his six-plus year UFC career.
I know I haven't had the one-punch knockouts or whatever in the UFC. I've had plenty in my career before the UFC, but I had them before the UFC. So who knows, you could see that Saturday night.
Can He Control His Temper?
If it wasn't his knockout loss to Dan Henderson, the lowest point of Michael Bisping's career probably actually came in a win against Jorge Rivera at UFC 127.
We've all heard the story now. The back-and-forth trash talk, the illegal knee, the spit toward Rivera's cornermen. We don't need to relive it now.
But the truth is that, although Bisping hasn't had that kind of outburst in a fight since, there is still a belief that he may always be living on the edge of "hyping the fight" and really hating his opponent.
The faceoff between he and Belfort earlier this week showed us that there is at least some hostility between these fighters. Bisping will need to keep his cool in the cage in order to implement his game plan, and of course, not get disqualified.
Can He Bring Belfort into Deep Waters?
For all of the trash talk that he does, it's sometimes easy to forget that Michael Bisping is truly one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport. His striking, his wrestling, his jiu-jitsu and his timing are all top-notch.
But what truly makes Bisping stand out is his tremendous conditioning.
Bisping has shown that he can fight at a good pace throughout a 15-minute bout without ever really slowing down. Perhaps, the best example of that was in his fight against Chael Sonnen nearly a year ago at UFC on FOX.
Although he struggled to stifle Sonnen's wrestling early in that bout and even during the third round, he exploded in the final minute of the fight, escaping from his back and even getting a takedown of his own against one of the best wrestlers in the sport.
From there, he punished Sonnen with a devastating series of elbows, nearly finishing Sonnen before the final bell rung.
He lost the contest, but Bisping's conditioning was on full display that night. He showed that even if he takes damage early in the fight, as many expect him to against Belfort on Saturday, he can come back and take over a fight in the later rounds.
Vitor Belfort is well-known as one of the most intense fighters in the world in Round 1, but he has also slowed down deep into fights throughout his career.
Look for Bisping to try to avoid the early knockout in an effort to test Belfort's wind in Rounds 2 and 3. He will likely then attempt to put the Brazilian away in Rounds 4 and 5.
Does He Have What It Takes to Be a Champion?
Michael Bisping could answer all four of the previous questions on this list, but the only one that really matters is this last one—does Bisping have what it takes to be a champion in the UFC?
A former light heavyweight, Bisping made the move down to 185 at UFC 83, all the way back in April 2008.
The move was a smart one for Bisping who was a little too small to be competing with the larger fighters at 205. At 185, he suddenly became one of the bigger fighters, which allowed him to control his opponents much more easily than he could at larger weight classes.
Unfortunately, the move also meant that if he wanted to be a champion, he'd have to defeat, perhaps, the greatest fighter in the history of the sport—Anderson Silva.
Bisping has been on the verge of a title shot a few times before this, but he has never quite been able to get there. On Saturday night, he will have another chance to get the biggest fight of his career against "The Spider."
We've seen so many fighters come at Silva in the past. Wrestlers, strikers, jiu-jitsu practitioners, everything...but what we may have never seen is someone who brings a combination of all of those skills in one body. Bisping could very well be that fighter.
If he wins on Saturday night, he'll finally have a chance against Silva to back up all of the talk and shut up the critics. But first, he'll need to beat a legend on FX.