Have the UFC given up on the British Dream?

Being an Englishman that follows competitive sports is not an easy or enjoyable thing to do.

Apart from a Canadian born Lennox Lewis winning the world title in the late nineties, or a Welshman in Joe Calzaghe retiring his undefeated record in some style over a withered Roy Jones Jnr in 2008 there is nothing much for us to shout about.

That being have to give us credit for effort.

In December 07, most of Manchester burned the midnight oil until 3am to watch the uber talented Mayweather toy with Hatton for 10 rounds before cruelling seperating him from his senses and extinguishing any hopes that we had actually found a genuine british sports star that could hang with the big boys from across the pond.

Despite this alarming reality check, we were only too willing to get our hands into our pockets just as quick a second time round when Sky's promotion team went into overdrive to push a blockbuster showdown with some small philpino guy called Manny Pacquiao.

Five minutes into the fight, we were putting our coats on the leave the pub as the hitman took another afternoon snooze on the lonely Las Vegas canvas.

Never mind eh... Theres always Amir Kahn..

I can deal with failure, thats not the issue. What I cant deal with is people mocking us for it. Teasing us like a cat with a ball of cotton wool. We yearn for it so much we will believe in anything as long as it has a 15 minute trailor before it telling us how hungry he is and how hard he trains. Truth of the matter is, i cant help it either. I cant help but get suckered into the promotional spin that companies such as the UFC will feed us, to make us believe that they might just have someone that can feed our desperation for a winner... somone that can do it.

Dan Hardy is a perfect example.

GSP is arguably the top dog in MMA today. And the UFC wanted us to believe that the local boy from Nottingham with his trademark red mohawk could do it.

We tried our hardest to think with our heads rather than our dreams... But..a few promotional episodes later with endless references to a devastating left hook and visits to Matt Serra's gym, it give us the believe that if he could just clip GSP with something, then maybe.. just maybe..he could do it.

The reality was as brutal as the armbar that GSP locked up in the opening round of the fight.

In 25 minutes, Hardy did not land a single power shot. Something that had been promised so heavily in the weeks prior to the fight.
Dont get me wrong, Hardy left that fight with alot of respect and admiration as he showed alot of guts to stay in the fight despite numerous fight ending submission attempts. But all of that will pale into insignificance if he fails to overcome his recent first round KO loss at the hands of Carlos Condit in Manchester last year and receives a pink slip after the imminent tussle with Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson in 4 weeks time.

So who is there left to carry the torch of hope? We cant be that devoid of talent can we?
Of course not...Enter shining light of British MMA.. the man everyone loves to hate.. Michael 'The Count' Bisping.

The UFC veteran has a respectable 20-3 record, and you would expect a fighter with that sort of record to be up there challenging for the title sooner or later.

Normally with the extent the UFC likes to up sell all of their English fighters you would expect them to be pushing the Bisping gravy train all the way to the bank, in a last effort to convince us he has what it takes to win the belt, before we stop believing it ourselves and stop spending our hard earned money on another great British hope.

But bizarrely in a weeks time he is scheduled to fight Jorge Rivera, a fighter in his 39th year with a less than spectacular 19-7 fight record.

Maybe the UFC know deep down that Bisping simply isn't good enough against the elite of the division and are finally giving us fans some respect by not even trying to convince us otherwise.

In his UFC career he has fought three fighters with recognised credentials.

Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva.

He has lost to them all....

He was also very lucky to get the nod over Matt Hamill at UFC 75 in London.
So are the UFC finally admitting defeat to themselves but not letting on to the fans?
Lets look at the facts...
There are a number of high quality fights out there for someone like Bisping namely:

Alan Belcher (eye injury aside)
Demian Maia
Nate Marquardt
Yushin Okami
Vitor Belfort
Chael Sonnen

But the UFC keeps Bisping away from these types of fights.

Why is this the case? Surely they want him fighting at least one of the above to at least lend some substance to the the idea of a title shot with Anderson Silva in a mega money spinner in the UK.
Surely they are not trying to sneek him to a title shot on the back of a win streak against mid tier fighters?
There are alot of people that rate Michael Bisping. I too believe he is an excellent fighter with decent boxing and a very underrated guard.

Unfortunately he has two glaring weaknesses;

A lack of KO power (The original Mr pillowhands) and his unerring ability to circle to his opponents power side (Dan Henderson anyone?).

I know this, and I think the UFC know it as well. Do you believe he has the ability to stay upright from a Chael double leg or his chin can dodge Vitor Belfort for 15 minutes?

Me neither....

And I think thats why the UFC are keeping him on the safe side of the fence.  To protect what marketability they have left in him.

Should he get passed Rivera (which I believe he will) they should step him up in competition. A fight with Sonnen would be mouth watering.

The next fight will test the faith that the UFC have in Bisping, will they throw him in with another world class operator that will politely hand his chin to him on a silver platter, or will they continue to fan the last dying embers of UK MMA by setting up a winnable fight with a big name fighter?

I wonder what the odds of a Wanderlei rematch in the UK are?

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