Michael Bisping's career has been a pretty interesting one when you really look at it.
He was a trailblazer in the UFC for fighters from the United Kingdom, a winner of The Ultimate Fighter when that still meant something and a guy who spent the better part of a decade being reasonably considered as a fringe title contender.
Say what one will about the quality of his opponents (largely mediocre) or his likeability (limited to most), but he did something few men will do: stuck around in the UFC long enough to win far more than he lost and almost always remained relevant.
But the unpleasant facts of the fight game have caught up to Bisping, and in his 35th year on this planet, he's very close to being old hat in a sport that is dominated by its youth.
To put it another way, he might suddenly be relegated to fun fights instead of meaningful ones.
You see, Bisping is slated to fight Cung Le in Macau in just under a month. Le—part-time movie star, television host and UFC ambassador and part-time surprisingly dangerous foe in MMA competition—is kind of in a class of his own.
He fights veteran guys, dudes who are pretty close to done fighting. He gets matched up with men who will play a stand-up game with him and offer entertainment, and those matchups rarely come more than yearly.
He's 2-1 in the UFC and hasn't fought since 2012, and people love him for it anyway. He's in his 40s and is still out there throwing wheel kicks and engaging in wild brawls, purely for the love of the sport.
He's unique. He's fun.
He's also, from a rankings perspective, totally irrelevant.
That's what's most important in linking him to Bisping—the fact that the Brit, for the first time since he dropped to middleweight in 2008, is in a fight that's of interest only on the happenings in the cage.
A win won't get him closer to a title shot. A loss won't make people demand his release.
He's just a guy in a cage fighting another guy in a cage. May the best man win.
Part of that is refreshing, a change of pace from the part of the MMA sphere that can't wait to get 140 characters out there and slap "#bogus" at the end of a statement decrying the UFC's official rankings.
Part of it indicates that Bisping is much closer to Rich Franklin in terms of influence on the division than he is to Chris Weidman. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's probably not what a notorious self-promoter like Bisping is keen to hear.
So it goes, though.
It's no secret that a man's time in MMA is short, and he's got to make it work while he can. Bisping did that to a highly respectable degree for a very long time, but after alternating wins and losses for nearly three years now and suffering some injury setbacks, his time may be coming.
Until that time, though, he could very well see himself in fights like the Le bout: fan-pleasing dustups in which entertainment is a surety and contendership takes a back seat.
Who's complaining, though? After all, they're called "fun fights" for a reason.
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