Michael Bisping may never be a UFC champion.
He might not ever fight for the title.
And I probably wouldn't even consider him a top-five middleweight in the UFC.
That said, after his dominant victory over Jason Miller, I'm once again astonished at how little credit Bisping gets from fans for what has actually been a pretty stellar UFC career.
The UFC has long relied upon Bisping's star power to grow the sport in his native England, and because of that MMA fans might feel like Bisping is being shoved down our throats. I get that. But that shouldn't take away from his consistently good performances inside the Octagon.
Chris Leben is generally considered to be a pretty solid and serviceable fighter, but contrast how people took Bisping's victory over Leben in comparison to how they took the victories of Brian Stann and Mark Munoz over the same man.
When Brian Stann beat Leben, people called it a great upset and star-making performance.
When Munoz beat up a gassed and unimpressive Leben at UFC 138, Joe Rogan called it the biggest victory of Munoz's career and a big step closer to getting a title shot.
Conversely, after Bisping pretty much neutralized and nullified all of Leben's offense over three rounds, fans acted like Bisping was lucky he didn't just get caught by a punch and knocked out.
The same thing goes for his victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Why does Bisping get no respect?
One reason Bisping gets no respect is because many fans dislike his perceived abrasive and self-centered attitude on The Ultimate Fighter. However, while Bisping may be a bit of a prickly personality, fans should remember that a person's portrayal on TUF is heavily influenced by editing designed to make fighters look a certain way.
I've talked to a lot of MMA fans who have actually met Bisping, and by all accounts Bisping is incredibly good to his fans who actually approach him in a friendly manner. Much like fellow maligned fighter Tito Ortiz, Bisping has been known to take a lot of time to talk and mingle with fans who actually treat him with respect.
And I can't blame him for telling off fans who boo him constantly. If I were booed so much, I would decide not to care about that either.
Bisping's attitude towards fans impresses me a lot more than many fighters I know who play up to the the crowd when the cameras are rolling but who simply can't be bothered if you try to say "hi: to them in a more everyday environment.
But aside from his attitude, I think there's also something about his fighting style that's pretty unappreciated.
Bisping might not do so well against some fighters with the ability to land knockout punches on elite fighters, but that doesn't mean Bisping doesn't do some great things himself. Bisping has a high work rate and crisp volume striking that allows him to wear down opponents and make them look like they have no cardio or punching ability.
When Bisping gets taken down, he's good at avoiding damage and getting back up to his feet. Rashad Evans, one of the best light-heavyweights in the world, actually had a lot of trouble keeping Bisping down.
He's a pretty underrated wrestler, both offensively and defensively.
Also, while he's rarely seen applying submissions in the UFC, he's a very good grappler and is especially good at raining down punishment from top position even against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts like Jason Miller and Denis Kang.
We saw all of that in Bisping's fight against Jason Miller.
Miller might have gassed against him, but you tend to get tired when your takedowns are getting stuffed, you can't control the fight, and you are absorbing punches and knees to the body and face. Miller might not be a great fighter, but he wouldn't have gassed out like that if he wasn't fighting a guy who could really take it to him like Bisping did.
Although Bisping's pace gives him a chance against anybody he can drag into deep water, I wouldn't favor Bisping over a heavy-hitter like Vitor Belfort. That said, I actually think there are quite a few very high-level middleweights whom Bisping matches up quite favorably against.
Yushin Okami is one of the best middleweights in the world, but I think Bisping would be able to neutralize enough of Okami's wrestling to be able to out-work Okami, especially over five rounds when conditioning is more of a factor.
Bisping may never beat an all-time great, but he's a perennial top-10 middleweight, the best MMA fighter ever to come out of England and, in general, is probably much better than he'll ever get credit for.
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