Michael Bisping emerged onto the UFC’s stage in 2006 when he claimed “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 light-heavyweight tournament finale win. Now eight years and 20 fights into his senior circuit career, Bisping stands at a crossroads in his MMA journey.
At age 35, the British middleweight has slowly been sliding down the 185-pound rankings ladder (currently at No. 8) and has all but disappeared from title contention. With a record of 14 – 6, “The Count” has never been able to win the big fight that could earn him a title shot or title challenge match. Indeed, over his last five fights Bisping has only managed a 2 – 3 record, with his wins coming against non-contenders Alan Belcher and Brian Stann, while his losses came to title contenders, Tim Kennedy, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen.
Bisping’s next fight is this coming August 23, 2014, when he takes on MMA veteran Cung Le in Macau, China, at UFC Fight Night (UFN) 48: Bisping vs. Le. The Fight Pass presented bout is an important one to Bisping and a match that, by “The Count’s” own estimation, puts his “credibility as a fighter on the line” and he “has to win.”
In speaking with Rick J Lee, Bisping was both honest and realistic. Although the British fighter is in no danger of being cut by the UFC, he is in danger of losing his top ten ranking and diminishing his marquee value. By “The Count’s” view, his back will be to the wall in Macau and he plans on putting on the “performance of a lifetime” to prove his worth.
“My back is up against the wall in this fight. I have to prove to the UFC, I have to prove to my coaches, I have to prove to all my supporters, but more importantly I have to prove to myself that I’ve still got what it takes to be one of the best in the world. I’m still as hungry as ever, I’m training better than ever, this is one of the best training camps I’ve had in a long time, I feel very ready for this test, and make no mistake, I’m going to put on the performance of a lifetime.”
One thing must be said for Bisping, rarely are fighters that candid in their career assessments and for that he should be applauded. In terms of the value of his honesty, it will be interesting to see if it pays off in his fight with Le.
If Bisping can put on a “performance of a lifetime” and take home a decisive win, he might be able to turn his career fortunes around. However, if Bisping takes a loss to Le, no matter what that loss is (decision or stoppage), it will be a hard blow to his future. Le is an aging fighter (42) and one looking to put an end to his career. If Bisping cannot take home a win against the unranked Le in Macau, then the question becomes, who can he beat?
The division is rife with big, hungry, talented, and dynamic fighters, and it is not going to get any easier. Bisping really does need a win in China and for the most important reason he stated, to prove that he still has “what it takes to be one of the best in the world.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Bisping