Until yesterday there were a few things I thought I would never see in the UFC; the top of that list being a Michael Bisping title win.
Perhaps a little lost among the hype of Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 return, English middleweight Michael Bisping finally reached the top of his division in spectacular style in the UFC 199 main event.
Bisping, who took the fight and opportunity on just over two weeks notice, ended the middleweight title reign of Luke Rockhold in the champion’s first title defence.
The win not only saw Bisping capture a title he had been chasing for almost a decade, having debuted in the UFC in June of 2006.
The 37 year-old Brit had been within reach of a title shot on multiple occasions, including what proved to be a number one contenders match-up which he lost to Rockhold in Sydney in November of 2014.
It seemed like perhaps Bisping would never take that next step, but would instead be remembered as a gatekeeper of sorts in his division. Someone who you needed to go through to prove your title credentials, yet a man who was unable to capture the title himself.
That all changed just three minutes and 36 seconds into the first round of last night’s title fight when the referee pulled Bisping off a wounded and defenceless champion.
Love him or hate him, and there are plenty on both sides of the divide, the joy on Bisping’s face after the stoppage, bringing an almost ten-year chase to an end had to feel good for the majority of fans.
Bisping’s career assention is what this sport is all about.
There have been highs, mainly his recent win over future UFC hall of famer Anderson Silva, and countless lows, but now Bisping will be remembered as a man who ruled his division, finally.
Although the manner in which the title shot came about, due to an injury to original challenger Chris Weidman, was fortuitous, not even the Brit’s biggest detractor could deny his having earned a title shot.
Riding a three-fight win streak, including the win over Silva, Bisping was ready and more than willing to step up on short notice when Weidman was forced to withdraw from the fight.
Able to sell the event with both his mouth and fighting style, Bisping’s addition arguably made the show a more attractive showcase to casual fans.
Having come so close to securing a title shot previously, combined with the history between he and the champion in Rockhold, the fight made sense.
Truth be told this was probably Bisping’s last shot at the title, given the fact he had fallen at the final hurdle so many times before, which drew fans in.
Despite a stacked undercard and the culmination of a long standing feud between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, UFC 199 will be remembered for Bisping’s title win.
He may not be the most popular fighter on the roster with fans. He may not be the biggest name in the business. He may not have been the original opponent and title challenger, but Michael Bisping is not UFC Middleweight Champion of the world.
Given the hard work and sacrifices he has made both inside and outside of the training facilities, it is rewarding to see Britain’s biggest MMA star reach a goal he has worked so very hard to achieve.