Mixed martial arts middleweight contender Michael Bisping is one of the UFC’s more popular fighters. He has been a divisive character since his UFC debut in 2006. The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner is one of the MMA organization’s longest employed fighters and has headlined numerous UFC events.
After his last win at UFC 159 against Alan Belcher, the Englishman was called out by international superstar and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le. Since April 2013, the two fighters have expressed a great interest in facing each other in the near future.
In an interview with ESPN, regarding Bisping, Le stated:
That would be a great fight for the fans. That would be a big fight [against Bisping]. But I’m not the one to make that decision. Whether I’m at the top of that list for the fight or on the bottom, it ultimately comes down to who Joe Silva and the UFC decide who we fight.
Both combatants possess a unique skill set and a profound knowledge of the fight game. Since both Bisping and Le prefer the stand-up game, a fight of this magnitude has all the trimmings to be one for the ages.
Cung Le (right) faces Patrick Cote at UFC 148.
Undoubtedly, Le possesses the advantage in this department. The Vietnamese-born fighter is a decorated striker. Le’s striking background is extensive and dates back to the early 1990s. He is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and is a multiple time Sansho world champion.
Le’s experience and high-level striking have parlayed well into the world of MMA. He sports a respectable record (9-2), and eight of those wins have come by way of knockout.
One of the biggest challenges in facing Le revolves around his incredibly diverse kicks. The former champion has delivered numerous highlight-reel finishes with his arsenal of kicks and thrives on utilizing his elite striking to knock out his opponent.
Bisping, on the other hand, has put together an impressive record as well (24-5). Fourteen of those wins have come via knockout. Some of his most memorable knockouts have come against perennial journeymen in Jason Miller, Jorge Rivera and Denis Kang.
However, with Le, “The Count” would go against a fighter who, at 41 years old, is still considered one of the best strikers in the UFC. Given both fighter’s tendencies and preferences, a bout between the two would most likely remain standing. Because of that, it is unlikely that a matchup between Bisping and Le would see a decision.
Advantage: Cung Le
Michael Bisping at the UFC Sydney 127 Open Workouts.
Along with his extensive striking background, Le has excelled in amateur wrestling. In college, he served as team captain and has garnered numerous accolades in that respect. However, Le’s MMA record indicates that he resembles a fighter who has all but abandoned his grappling skills for the stand-up game.
Throughout Le’s MMA career, he has not recorded a single submission. Fortunately for the international superstar, Bisping has not fared much better in the grappling department.
The Englishman only sports four wins by submission. Some of his biggest losses have come against elite wrestlers such as Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans. However, Bisping is an intelligent fighter who paces himself and takes advantage of every opportunity to capitalize on his opponents' weaknesses. This has resulted in an 83 percent win rate for middleweight.
Advantage (although slight): Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping battles Alan Belcher at UFC 159.
Given that Le has only seen one decision—accompanied by his knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139—some have questioned the Vietnamese fighter’s cardio.
Leading up to his fight against Rich Franklin at UFC on Fuel TV 6, Andrew Richardson of MMAMania.com stated, “Cardio may be his (Franklin) biggest asset against Le, who has fatigued considerably in both of his UFC fights.”
Bisping, on the other hand, is not known for fatiguing and keeps an incredible pace in the Octagon. Right before the Englishman’s fight against Jorge Rivera at UFC 127, Andrew Gladstone of MMAMania.com stated:
Bisping's cardio will play a factor in this fight because Bisping can go three rounds at an incredible pace….Bisping's seemingly bottomless gas tank throughout three rounds is that of a lightweight. It's hard to imagine Rivera being able to keep up with Bisping for 15 busy minutes.
It is difficult to imagine that Le would be able to keep up with Bisping as well, especially if the bout was a 25-minute headliner.
Advantage: Michael Bisping