With UFC’s return to London coming this weekend, now is a better time than ever to highlight the first champion to come from the British Isles. I am, of course, referring to Michael Bisping, who was the first (and so far, only) British champion in UFC history. Coming on March 21st, his documentary ”The Michael Bisping Story” will detail the highs and lows of his career, especially winning the belt with only one eye!
Ties to The O2 Arena
The UFC returns to London’s O2 Arena this weekend, a venue ”The Count” is very familiar with. Six years ago, Michael Bisping faced off against one of the best fighters of all time in Anderson Silva and came out on top after a hint of controversy. Bisping’s mouthpiece was knocked from his mouth only moments before being hit with a thunderous knee from the Brazilian, initially leading many to think he had lost. Upon realising the confusion, the referee restarted the fight, and Bisping took the nod on the judges’ cards.
The crowd’s reaction was thunderous. Bisping struggled to interact positively with fans earlier in his career. This wasn’t a problem in London, as the fans treated him like a hero all night long.
“Highs and lows” is often said when referring to a fighter. Perhaps a man who can relate to it the most is Bisping. He overcame extreme adversity after losing his eye following a head kick against Vitor Belfort. Belfort was later discovered to have been using banned substances prior to the bout.
Bisping still completed a further 11 times in the Octagon after the loss. One of those times was the previously mentioned Silva win. That was the fight that set him up for the title shot and the redemption that came with it.
Rematch For The Gold
Following the Silva victory, Bisping then went off to shoot for a movie. During filming, he received a call. The contents of the conversation? An offer to fight for the middleweight championship of the world.
Luke Rockhold was champion at the time and had a history with Bisping, having beaten him two years prior. He constantly reminded him of this throughout the buildup, taunting the British contender with a scathing intensity.
The second fight could not have been any different to the first. Both men came out swinging, but Bisping took the nod after finishing Rockhold in the very first round. Not only had he made up for a previous loss, but he took the world championship as an extra trophy!
His first defence was another rematch and another return to England. He faced veteran of the sport Dan Henderson and defeated him over five rounds to retain the gold in front of his home crowd. A highlight was that Bisping recovered from the same shot that knocked him out years prior, overcoming Henderson’s ”H-Bomb” to persevere and retain.
The Michael Bisping Story
All of the highs and lows of Michael Bisping’s career will be detailed in his upcoming documentary, set for release on March 21st, two days after UFC London.
Dana White states in the documentary that he thought the injury would end Bisping’s career. If anything, it only seemed to push the British pioneer to continue to succeed. Winning the belt at all is the highlight of anyone’s career, but Bisping managed it on short notice with one eye.
Below is the trailer for the upcoming documentary, which will be available to rent and buy on March 21st.
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images