By Niall Clarke
- Michael Bisping defeats Anderson Silva via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
- Controversial ending to round three where Silva thought he had secured victory
LONDON, ENGLAND- Britain’s Michael Bisping secured the biggest win of his Mixed Martial Arts career as he upset former Middleweight Anderson Silva via unanimous decision.
The Manchester native survived being knocked down at the end of the third round to earn a 48-47, 48-47, 48-47 victory over the Brazilian in the O2 arena.
There was confusion towards the end of the middle stanza as with just seconds left of the round Bisping lost his mouth-guard. Silva continued to apply the pressure as the Brit tried signalling for his mouth-piece. The 40 year old landed a flying knee on the horn which appeared to knock the Brit out and Silva went off celebrating thinking he had won the fight. However referee Herb Dean never called the bout off and amidst the confusion the fight continued into the latter rounds.
A bloodied and stunned Bisping remained game and closed out the fight to score the upset and the biggest win of his career. An emotional Bisping was brought to tears as he had done what he had set out to do for the past decade- beat his idol.
It was not only a career defining win, it is also a victory that could launch ‘The Count’ towards a UFC title shot against either current champion Luke Rockhold or Chris Weidman. They are scheduled to fight for the second time at UFC 199.
Bisping, as always, did not hold back in the pre fight talking. The 36 year old labelled Silva as a cheat prior to their meeting, but in the post fight interview an emotional Bisping spoke of his admiration for the former champion.
“Things were said between me and Anderson Silva. I worship this guy. This guy is the greatest martial artist of all time. That’s why I’m so emotional right now. This has been a life-long quest. You inspired me. When I started I was a young, cocky kid saying things I regret.
“Anderson, thank you.”
Toughness, technique and the willingness to not back down played a huge part in the victory, but the Englishman did not forget another factor- the crowd.
“I’ve wanted this fight my entire life. Because of you guys, you give me the power. You give give me the power. You’ve been in my corner every time.” Bisping added.
From the minute ‘Song 2’ blurred out of the speakers at the O2 to the second that Bisping walked out the victory, the British crowd were behind their man. Every note of ‘woo-hoo’ was met in turn by the near 20,000 in capacity as Bisping made his way to the octagon. The sense of anticipation heightened further still as Silva made his trademark entrance- a visual that has been a staple of the sport for over a decade.
Bisping, the underdog, stated his intentions early in the fight. The Brit took the centre of the octagon off the bat and threw an early head kick that barely missed the Brazilian. Silva, whose style can be best described as a sniper, circled the cage analysing his opponent’s every move.
A rather event-less opening round concluding in dramatic fashion. The first big blow was dealt, and it was not by the former champion. As Silva upped the aggression he was caught by Bisping, and the O2 erupted as ‘The Spider’ had been stunned.
It was a wake up call for Silva, who looked to embrace his opponent at the end of the round- Bisping was having none of it. The Brit shoved Silva away and it was on.
Sensing the need to try something different the Brazilian looked to his old bag of tricks. Silva dropped his hands, he danced, he used faints in order to catch Bisping in his trap. It was these mind games that had worked against so many fighters in the past, but it was also what cost him his Middleweight title against Weidman. That day ‘The All-American’ stunned the world with a vicious knockout- Bisping came close to repeating it. Another big end to the round for the Brit saw him knock Silva down. The Spider regained his senses and locked Bisping in his guard as he looked to finish the fight- Silva survived.
Two rounds in the books for the Brit, and now they were believing. The crowd willed Bisping on in the third as he continued to stand toe to toe with the man who is regarded as the greatest of all time. A more serious Silva looked to push the pace and towards the end of the round almost dealt a deadly blow. Bisping lost his mouth-piece and his concentration, abandoning the first rule in combat sports- protect yourself at all times. Bisping dropped his hands to signal for his mouth piece, Silva landed a flying knee flush on the horn. The Brit appeared to be out and Silva climbed the fence in celebration- he thought he had won. He referee cried “The fight is not over,” and so we continued into the fourth round.
Bisping, battered and bloodied, staggered towards the centre of the cage as the fourth round began. The 36 year old, still dazed from the knee at the end of the third, did not abandon his game-plan. He kept coming forward and surprisingly Silva was passive. One would think you would up the pressure after landing such a big blow- but Silva opted for patience. It was a tactic that ultimately ended up letting Bisping back into the fight as he gained more and more consciousness.
The fight went into the fifth round and Bisping survived the pressure from Silva early the stanza to take control of the centre of the octagon again. The Brit pressed forward to land combinations but found himself getting stunned again by a front-kick. The technique that so famously knocked Vitor Belfort out many years a go could not stop ‘The Count’ who continued to battle his way through to the finish.
It was a close fight that could have gone either way, but the decision went the way of the Brit much to the delight of the crowd. Bisping left the cage to embrace his family- he had done it. The biggest fight of his life and it was a performance to match. It’s a win that could bring a title shot, and who knows maybe the first English UFC champion?
It is hard to predict where Silva goes from here. At 40 years of age, it is fair to say that the former champion is past his peak. However he still has fights left on his contract and if his heart desires it he still has the skills to continue going. As for now his future is up in the air.
The main event capped off a great night for the Brits as Tom Breese and Brad Pickett also scored decision victories in the undercard. The co main event so Gegard Mousasi outpoint Thales Leites to a decision victory in another feature Middleweight bout.
The UFC returns on March 5th with UFC 196: McGregor vs Diaz.
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