The UFC octagon will return to England this weekend as the biggest British star in the company, and sport’s history, headlines his first pay-per-view as a UFC champion.
Bisping, who captured a title many thought he would never call his own, via a huge upset knock-out victory over Luke Rockhold, back in June at UFC 199.
On less than two-weeks notice, he stepped up to dethrone the man many expected to rule the division for the foreseeable future.
Rockhold, who had beaten Bisping with relative ease in Sydney a few years prior, did not take the Brit seriously, but soon paid the price of being separated from both his consciousness and title.
With the win, Bisping not only realised a life-long dream, but put himself in a position where he can be a genuine poster boy for the mixed martial arts juggernaut
This Sunday he has a chance to avenge the most devastating defeat of his career, when he defends his Middleweight title against Dan Henderson.
Fans of the UFC will remember the ridiculous series of punches that left Bisping staring at the lights at UFC 100. Bisping himself certainly won’t.
The sight of Henderson dropping the mother of all loaded bombs on a downed Bisping has been used as a highlight by the UFC for the years since.
No matter what Bisping did, no matter who he beat, no matter how much success he enjoyed, he’d always be remembered as the man who was “Hendo’ed” at the biggest UFC event of all time.
Fast forward to UFC 204 and Bisping has a chance to drastically change that perception, and in front of a huge and vocal home crowd no less.
The man known as “The Count” has improved beyond words since that fight. He is now a much bigger star also.
He had headlined UFC events in the past, but has never been seen as a genuine UFC Pay-per-view superstar.
This weekend however, at least momentarily, he will be the biggest star in the business, at least to those fans in attendance.
A win over the MMA legend Henderson will help cement the ever growing legacy of one of the UFC’s most well-known stars.
Bisping’s appeal has grown over the years, as has his skillset.
He burst onto the scene as a trash talking member of the Ultimate Fighter cast, representing team UK, a series in which he won.
Bisping, as an international star, was then cast into a vilian role. He seemed to genuinely revel in the role, talking down his American opponents and lapping up boos from the proud US dominated crowds.
During his first fight in Australia, in the co-main event of the UFC’s first Sydney pay-per-view, Bisping was boo’ed out of the building.
Many years have passed since then, and Bisping has become a genuine fan favourite down under.
His ability to sell a fight against an overmatched Jorge Rivera helped create a buzz for 2011’s UFC 127, back in Sydney.
Has Bisping and Rivera not created such a storm of controversy via their pre-match antics, the show would be largely forgotten.
Subsequent trips down under have seen the Brit’s popularity grow.
His sarcastic and jovial personality has helped make returns to the Ultimate Fighter reality show far more fun than they could have been.
He has one of the most famous smiles in the UFC, and that very smile is now being plastered all over pay-per-view posters.
Oh, and he also had a victory over the undisputed king of MMA in Anderson Silva.
All that could be severely dented should he drop the title to Henderson, who you feel was probably only a loss or two away from retirement.
By no means do I mean to talk down the abilities and career of the MMA legend in Henderson, but this is a fight Bisping must win.
A huge home crowd will be there to cheer him on. A win, and the retainment of his UFC title, will surely see him headline a series of British-based pay-per-view events for a few years to come.
I’m an unashamed huge fan of the Middleweight Champion. A highlight reel finish in front of a huge crowd sets The Count up for a huge, money-generating, rematch with Rockhold.
I’m glad to see Bisping enjoying the level of success he has. He has certainly earned it. Despite being an equally big fan of Henderson, I hope it continues for the man who has made me stand on my feet and cheer, as well as laugh, for many years.