It's safe to say that none of us have been knocked out worse than how Dan Henderson put Michael Bisping to sleep at UFC 100. Barring being hit by a mack truck -- I'm looking at you Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira --, there isn't one of us that can relate to how the Briton felt in the minutes, days, and weeks after his first stoppage loss.
Knockouts -- especially those devastating one-hitter quitters like the one that crushed Bisping's jaw -- can often have a lasting effect on a fighter. It's often said that once a fighter has his lights turned off the first time, it get progressively easier and easier each and every time going forward.
That can cause a fighter to change their style -- becoming more reserved and gun shy -- while inside the Octagon, begin to regress mentally as they worry constantly about the threat of that one well-placed punch or often, a combination of both.
This very well could have been the case with "The Count" whose knockout loss to Henderson is still talked about two years later. Four months after that fateful night in Las Vegas, the Briton returned to his native country to shows fans and critics alike whether or not his career would be defined by his UFC 100 loss.
This Saturday (Dec. 3), Bisping continues his journey towards a middleweight title shot when he takes on fellow The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) coach Jason Miller in the main event of the TUF 14 Finale. It's a huge fight for "The Count," one that would likely not even be taking place had it not been for his performance in his first post-UFC 100 fight against Denis Kang.
Let's take a closer look at that fight.
Both fighters in the center of the Octagon and spend the first minute of the fight pretty much just feeling each other out and gauging the distance. Bisping makes a tactical error and hops in to close the distance. Kang measures his opponent up perfectly and lands a picture perfect counter hook to Bisping's temple.
The Briton collapses to the mat but still has his wits about him. He's still unable, however, to keep Kang from jumping on top of him and beginning to work him over on the mat. Short punches and quick elbows land with more annoyance than force but they're simply diversions to keep Bisping occupied as "The Super Korean" transitions all the way up to mount twice.
Bisping is up to the challenge and has decent Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) chops himself and he manages to accomplish three things: not get submitted himself, force Kang back to full guard and then go for some submission attempts himself.
"The Count" finds himself on his back for the rest of the round but is still greeted with a hero's welcome by his hometown crowd when the round ends. Cheers aside, if Bisping wanted to make a statement concerning his career trajectory following his loss at UFC 100, he had now lost five minutes with which to do so in.
At the beginning of the second round, Bisping is more of an aggressor. He's likely fired up for his poor performance in the first round while Kang is probably hoping for his opponent to make another early mistake. But "The Count" is unfettered by his knockdown five minutes ago and continues to stand and bang inside the pocket with Kang. A wide, looping hook from "The Super Korean" cracks the Briton on the chin and visibly shake him up but Bisping presses forward.
That's when "The Count" busted out something that Kang -- and likely no one else -- was expecting from the British fighter: wrestling.
A hook from Bisping keeps Kang defensively occupied while the Briton shoots in and ends up getting his opponent to the mat with a single-leg takedown. From there, he rains down a flurry of ground and pound as the Manchester crowd roars in approval. Kang is able to get back to his feet but realizes that all of a sudden he has a fight on his hands.
Back on their feet, Bisping shoots in -- this time with no setup -- once again and for the second time in as many minutes, Kang finds himself on his back absorbing punch after punch. He's able to get to a vertical base more quickly this time around but surely he knows -- along with Bisping and the crowd -- that a third time might be the charm for "The Count."
With less than two minutes remaining in the second round, Kang is a bloody mess, his hands hang low by his waist, and his shoulders rise and then crash down as his lungs suck in air. His punches still have some snap to them but Bisping is able to bob and weave out of each of them before diving in and putting "The Super Korean" on his back for what would end up being the final time.
Punches to the head force Kang to roll over onto his knees where his ribcage is subjected to a few knees. Bisping delivers more punches to his opponent's skull and somehow Kang manages to get to his feet. On his way up, another knee crashes into his face and he responds with a wicked haymaker. Bisping ducks it and lands a short punch that drops "The Super Korean" back to the mat. The referee has no other option than to stop the fight after a handful of strikes.
The question -- was Michael Bisping done? -- was answered.
Not by a long shot, mate.
Bisping would end up losing his next fight to Wanderlei Silva but since then has rattled off three consecutive wins. A win against Miller might put "The Count" in line for a shot at the 185-pound title after Chael Sonnen and Mark Muñoz settle their differences.
Think Bisping pulls off the victory on Saturday? Or will "Mayhem" reign supreme?