UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping Proves Michael Bisping Isn't Elite

Dilan AmesCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2013

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27:  Michael Bisping of Great Britain celebrates his victory over Jorge Rivera of the USA in their middleweight bout part of at UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Going into UFC on FX 7, the odds weren’t exactly favorable for Michael Bisping. Bisping had the daunting task of being the underdog against not only a raucous crowd, but also an intimidating opponent in Vitor Belfort—in Belfort’s home country nonetheless. Furthermore, all of this was with the current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, sitting ringside.  

What was expected by many to be an exciting slugfest between two of the UFC’s toughest, most high-profile middleweights turned out to be a stunning knockout victory for the Rio de Janeiro native. After a first round filled with solid strike exchanges, the fight was ended with 1:27 left in the second round by a thunderous head kick from Belfort. 

Classily, Bisping had this to say after the fight: 

Congratulations to Vitor. I had an amazing training camp. I felt fantastic. It was a beautiful kick. He caught me and he was a better man than me tonight. You win some; you lose some. I am not going away.

While Bisping may not be going away anytime soon, his chances of being considered “elite” are certainly starting to dissipate. Sure, his overall record (24-5) is impressive, but Bisping will be 34 years old in February and it is starting to look like his recent up-and-down MMA career is on the verge of decline. 

Consider this: Seven of Bisping’s 13 wins in the UFC have come against fighters who are no longer associated with the franchise, meaning that he is 6-5 against fighters of his degree—a much less impressive statistic. 

After a hard-fought victory over “The All-American,” Brian Stann, on UFC 152, many thought that Bisping was well on the road to a title shot, and UFC President Dana White later promised that the Englishman would get his chance with a win over Belfort. Well, obviously, Belfort and his left leg had a much different plan.  

“The Count” is 1-2 in his last three fights after a four-fight win streak dating back to May 2010 with his victory over Dan Miller. After a 14-0 start to his professional MMA career, it is evident that Bisping is not the fighter he used to be, and it looks like his glory days may be over and done with. 

It leaves one wondering how and if a win over Belfort would have changed the general public’s opinion of Bisping’s career. While it is unlikely that he would’ve beaten the dominant champion, Anderson Silva, a win against a fighter the level of Belfort would have made a strong case for the argument that Bisping is an elite MMA fighter. 

While Bisping may not get another title opportunity, he will likely have a couple of more big fights in his career, largely due to his infamous trash-talking. His always opinionated mouth has recently cooked up a bit of beef with two other middleweight standouts in the UFC, Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch

With Weidman out with an elbow injury and Boetsch recently losing to Costa Philippou, the race to be considered the top contender in the UFC’s middleweight division was wide open for Bisping, but it is clear that he just was not quite good enough. This opens the door for a potential matchup between Bisping and one of his fellow middleweight counterparts, Boetsch and Weidman, which would certainly make for an exciting middleweight showdown. 

As I said earlier, Bisping will probably have a couple of more big fights in his career, but I believe it is more because of his persona and ability to get under people’s skin, rather than his skill level as a fighter.  

Don’t get me wrong, Bisping is still an above-average fighter and is one of the better fighters in the UFC today, but I am not sold on him as an elite fighter. He will likely go down as a very good fighter, but not an elite one.