Michael Bisping is a name not only synonymous with UK MMA but now also MMA globally. The brash Clitheroe lad burst onto the scene all the way back in 2006 on TUF 3. Before he made it to the world stage though, Michael was tearing it up on the UK scene.
A man who has experienced the highs and lows like no others. We here at Combat Sports UK are going to have a look at what we believe might be Bisping’s top 5 moments in his 13-year career.
5. Winning UK gold
As mentioned before, Michael was one of the UK’s biggest and brightest talents before he was scouted for TUF. Starting his career in April 2004, it didn’t take long for Mike to earn his first piece of gold. After winning his first two bouts via TKO in the first round. Bisping would challenge for the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight championship.
Taking on Mark Epstein at Cage Rage 7, Michael dominated the fight and got the TKO finish in the second. He went on to defend the belt in a rematch against Mark KOing his foe in the third.
After a falling out with his previous employer Cage Rage over them not wanting him to compete elsewhere. Michael once again claimed gold quickly. Now 5-0 as a professional he jumped straight into the Cage Warriors deep end when he challenged Dave Radford for the CW LHW belt. TKOing his opponent in the first, Mike had some more gold wrapped around his waist.
Not done there Michael went on to defend his newly earned belt three times. All three by finish, and all in the first round. His last defence was against another highly touted British prospect in Ross Pointon. In what will become important a little later, Michael submitted his opponent via Armbar two minutes into the fight.
Straight after winning Cage Warriors’ silverware, Mike made a quick pit stop to collect another trophy. This time it was the FX3 Light-Heavyweight strap. Taking on Alex Cook at FX3: Xplosion, Michael claimed his third UK belt. Submitting Cook in round one. He didn’t defend this belt as he went straight back to Cage Warriors.
His Time in the UK
Overall, Michael’s career in the UK was hugely successful. Earning three titles, defending them four times, and gaining plenty of fans and hype along the way. Leaving the UK regional scene with a perfect 10-0 record, Michael was destined for the top.
4. Winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 3
After he dominated the UK’s Light Heavyweight scene, it wasn’t long before the UFC came knocking. After an extremely successful first two seasons of TUF, it was time to expand on the show. This season would see the UFC bringing some overseas talent onto the show, one of which was of course “The Count”.
Making his mark in the house with other Brit Ross Pointon, it didn’t take long for Michael Bisping to stand out. With team captains Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock, Mike ended up with the Light Heavyweight champion Tito. His brash attitude in the house gained him a target on his back.
One of the eight fighters competing for the LHW prize, Michael was first paired up against Kristian Rothaermel. Bisping dominated the fight and won in the first via TKO, advancing to the next round.
The next round was against a familiar opponent, as he took on fellow Brit Ross Pointon. After facing off against him just five months prior, Michael already has his opponent’s number. Competing in the semi-final, Mike wasted no time taking out Ross, defeating him in the first when Pointon submitted to strikes.
Now 2-0 in the house Michael would move into the final and compete in the UFC for real.
After blasting through the competition in the house Bisping was poised to fight for the big one. His counterpart on the night would be Josh Haynes. Josh has also gone 2-0 in the house, earning one decision win and one submission victory.
The stage was set, Michael vs Josh. Taking place at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Ortiz vs. Team Shamrock Finale, Michael was the co-main event. The fight started well with Mike dominating round one. Entering the second both men were tired, after giving their all to win. However, at 4:14 into round two, the referee stopped the fight after Michael had control and was raining down blows. Winning via TKO Michael was crowned the Ultimate Fighter 3 champion.
3. Defeating the G.O.A.T
After his time on TUF Michael quickly went to work, winning his first three bouts. Extending his record to 14-0 it wasn’t until UFC 78 till he first tasted defeat. Taking on another TUF Alumnus in season two’s winner Rashad Evans. He lost the fight via split decision to the future champ. This loss, however, could be described as a blessing in disguise. After tasting defeat Michael made a massive career move.
Move to Middleweight
Dropping down from Light Heavyweight to Middleweight. Bisping felt this was the key that would give him the competitive edge in future bouts and it worked. Winning his next three bouts Mike found himself in a title eliminator against MMA legend Dan Henderson. In what is now one of the most famous knockouts in the sport, Dan Henderson Defeated Michael via KO, dropping his famous “H-Bomb” on the unconscious Brit.
After getting so close to a title fight Michael became a mainstay at the top of the division. Facing a whose who of top competition. Bisping competed against many of the best the sport has seen. With wins and losses along the way, Mike would always get within touching distance of the belt, before falling short just before the finishing line.
A man who has fought five former UFC champions in his time as well as countless other champs from across the globe. Bisping’s fight history is littered with legends. The Aforementioned Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans were just the starts of the elite competition. Michael also shared the cage with Wanderlei Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold, Anderson Silva and GSP among many others.
Always seemingly losing to the best of the best, this all changed when in 2016 he took on the Middleweight G.O.A.T Anderson Silva.
Not many names shine brighter in the MMA world than Anderson “The Spider” Silva. Middleweight king for almost a decade, Silva was, is and always will be considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists to compete in the beautiful sport. Ten title defences and a few LHW bouts saw Silva stay unbeaten for seven years.
Despite losing his belt and his freak leg break, Anderson was still one of the best, as shown in his return outing against Nick Diaz. Defeating the Stockton slapper over five rounds (now a no contest) to prove he was still “The Spider” everyone knew.
Announcing an event for London on the 27th of February 2016, the UFC needed a big main event. Cue Michael Bisping versus Anderson Silva. The biggest star the UK has seen, against the biggest star the UFC has seen, it was set. Five rounds to find out who was the best.
Ranking in at number seven at the time Michael was entering this fight on a two-fight winning streak. Anderson was #5. With an electric UK crowd behind him, Michael went to work. In a fight that was back and forth with both men having moments, and sharing knockdowns, it went all five rounds.
The judges’ scorecards were in, and the whole of the UK MMA fan base was nervously waiting for the result. “All three judges have scored this contest 48-47 for the winner, by unanimous decision Michael “The Count” Bisping”. In an eruption of emotion, Michael launches his water bottle and jumps on the cage as the crowd goes crazy. This win would see Michael move up the rankings and be set for a big fight next time out. How big? Nobody was sure of until it happened.
2. Winning the UFC Middleweight Championship
Michael’s road to the title might be like no others. Thought of as an almost man for most of his career. He was always near the top, but never quite at the top. This all changed on June 4th 2016. After defeating Silva, Mike found himself #4 in the division. Healing his injuries and resting up after his war in February. Bisping was on the set of a movie he was to be a part of when he got the call.
Two weeks out, Chris Weidman had to pull out of his UFC 199 scheduled rematch against champion Luke Rockhold. After trying to find a replacement in the form of Jacare Souza, who wasn’t keen on the idea of a two-week camp. There was only one man for the job. Mr reliable himself, “The Count”. Taking the opportunity to fight for gold immediately. Bisping has claimed as soon as he put the phone down, he did the same with a beer he was drinking and began to run.
The Big One
After getting the call on short notice many thought this would be just another fight for Luke Rockhold. Someone who already had a win against Bisping 19 months earlier. The arrogance of the champion was clear to see in the build-up and press conferences, making what was about to happen all the sweeter. Making weight like the pro he was Michael vs Luke was locked in for the main event of UFC 199.
Fight night was here and after a successful show so far it was time for the headliners to take centre stage. With thousands of UK fans no doubt hooked to their screen at 4 am, Bisping made the walk, in what would be the biggest fight of his career. The cage door shut and it was time.
Michael starts out taking the middle of the cage, looking to land with his hands. Rockhold on the contrary is content to circle and throw kicks to both the legs and the body. After some brief exchanges that see both men land, you can see Bisping’s confidence to find the chin growing. Soon he does just that, after looking to counter the champ he gets him. Rockhold comes in close but leaves his chin wide open. Michael needs no second invitation landing flush with a left dropping Luke.
Now against that cage, Rockhold is out. Michael lands some final punishing blows as the referee jumps in 3:36 into round one. “Michael Bisping is the new UFC Middleweight Champion of the World!”. The now famous words of Mike Goldberg.
After all the ups and all the downs finally, Michael Bisping could call himself a UFC champion. Alongside all his records and accomplishments he already had, now his story was complete. With this win, Michael became (at the time) the fighter with the most UFC fights before claiming gold. 26 fights later Mike had done it.
Defending His Championship Gold
Now at the top of the food chain, it was time to defend what he had earned. With a division full of talent, the UFC decided it was only right to settle an old score. UFC 204 would take place in Manchester, England and Michael was obviously going to be the main event. The only thing left to do was find him a dance partner. At the same event, Bisping won the belt, there was another middleweight and a former opponent who was rolling back the years. Dan Henderson.
After an impressive KO at UFC 199, matchmakers decided on a rematch seven years in the making. Would it be repeat or revenge? Well for the delight of all in attendance it was revenge as Bisping won the unanimous decision to retain his belt.
Now with a title defence, things didn’t look like they could get much better for “The Count”. After all, he’d completed all he needed to in his career. After losing the belt, and his final bout he hung the gloves up for the better of his health. Now retired, there was nothing else to do as a fighter. Still, all he had done for the sport hadn’t gone unrecognised.
1. UFC Hall of Famer
After over 11 years in the UFC, all the sacrifices he’d made. Blood, sweat, tears and even his vision in his right eye. It was time for the MMA world to celebrate the career of Michael Bisping. Announced in 2019 at UFC: Till vs Masvidal, he would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Fans couldn’t have been happier for a man who truly earned all he got.
A man who held record after record for both Middleweight and the UFC some of which still stand. Being the first Brit to headline an event. Becoming the first and still only UK champion. Having 29 fights for the company and growing into one of the sport’s good guys, no one can complain about his worth induction.
He was inducted into the UFC’s Modern Wing of the Hall of Fame on June 5th 2019. Cementing his place among the other greats before him.
The human embodiment of never giving up. Michael time and time again stood up in the face of adversity and came back fighting. As UFC fans got to watch a young lad grow from a Clitheroe scrapper to an all-time great. I really hope you enjoyed this list of our top 5 Michael Bisping moments.
What was your favourite Michael Bisping Moment over the years?
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images