Michael Bisping has been a consistent fighter since his arrival in the UFC three-and-a-half years ago. He's fought his way into the middle of the pack in two different weight classes, experiencing his only losses against Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.
The one ranking where Bisping comes out on top is most hated fighter in the UFC. The cocky Brit has never shied away from speaking his mind and boasting his skill, even after being on the wrong end of a spectacular knockout from Henderson.
After his initial loss to Evans, Bisping dropped down to the middleweight division and immediately began to leave his mark. He was dominant in wins over Charles McCarthy and Jason Day before taking a unanimous decision victory over Chris Leben.
Then came Dan Henderson.
The two fighters opposed each other first as captains on The Ultimate Fighter, and then squared off against one another at UFC 100 last July. For the duration of the show and again during all the pre-fight hype, Bisping was adamant in his ability to defeat the MMA legend, Henderson.
Henderson repeatedly refused to get into a war of words with Bisping, noting that his fists would do his talking for him inside the Octagon. True to his word, Henderson did just that. Bisping continuously circled to his left and was eventually caught by a Henderson right hook that put Bisping to sleep before he even hit the canvas.
Bisping rebounded from that loss to win Fight of the Night honors against Denis Kang in November. Bisping finished the fight again, this time in the second round.
Wanderlei Silva, another MMA legend, now stands in Bisping's way at UFC 110. Bisping is still seeking a breakthrough performance against a legitimate star in the sport.
That will all change by the time he leaves the cage in Sydney.
Now is the time for that signature win Bisping has long been looking for. He faces a fighter in Silva that has gone 1-5 in his last six fights, with the only win coming over Keith Jardine. The Brazilian will make his debut as a middleweight for the UFC in the fight.
With Rampage Jackson in his corner, Bisping will have a great plan to beat the far more experienced Silva. Jackson knocked out Silva at UFC 92, and Bisping does have the punching power to end the fight the same way.
However, Bisping would be better served to take the fight to the ground in order to avoid Silva's dangerous punches and knees. Despite holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Silva hasn't ended a fight with a submission since January 2000.
Bisping has shown great movement and quickness with his wrestling. He's also proven to be a great ground-and-pound fighter as well. This will serve him well against Silva, who hasn't spent much time on the ground in recent fights.
A lay-and-pray strategy also wouldn't be out of the question to pull out a victory. While that will draw many complaints from critics, Bisping is desperate for a win of this magnitude, and he should do whatever it takes to get that victory.
Barring a dominating performance with a spectacular knockout, Bisping won't receive a title shot with a win. He will, however, position himself near the top of the division. A fight with Chael Sonnen or Vitor Belfort would be the next logical step.
It's amazing that a fighter who has never fought for a UFC title can be so universally hated outside his home country. With a win over Wanderlei Silva, disdain for Bisping will grow exponentially to coincide with the smack talk he'll spout in the post-fight press conference.
Like him or not, Michael Bisping is on the cusp of becoming a legitimate title contender. The first step to a title fight will take place at UFC 110 when he takes down a MMA legend and asserts himself near the top of the middleweight rankings.
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