Two of the most talented middleweights in the world will clash this Saturday night (Sept. 22, 2012) as the always mouthy Michael Bisping takes on "The All-American" Brian Stann on the UFC 152 main card in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Bisping had his four fight winning streak snapped in his last bout, a UFC on Fox 2 contest against Chael Sonnen which he took on eight days notice, but his stock actually raised because he was so competitive against the then-number two ranked middleweight in the world. He's hoping to utilize that momentum with a big victory over Stann.
Brian Stann also had his run at the belt halted by Sonnen, but he's already on the comeback trail, knocking out Alessio Sakara in Sweden at UFC on FUEL TV 2 earlier this year. After having an opportunity to headline a UFC on Fox bout cancelled due to injury, the former marine is back in action.
Will Bisping finally win the big one to potentially earn a title shot? Can Stann land that heavy right hand and shut "The Count's" mouth up violently? What's the key to victory for both men on Saturday night?
Let's find out:Michael Bisping
Record: 22-4 overall, 11-4 in the UFC
How he got here: Michael Bisping entered season three of The Ultimate Fighter with a spotless 10-0 record and having been a Cage Warriors star in his native England. He dominated the competition and, despite being an undersized light heavyweight, won his first four fights in the UFC.
His momentum was finally halted when he dropped a decision to Rashad Evans, and he decided to make the cut to middleweight immediately afterwards. Bisping won his first three fights at 185 as well and was potentially in line for a title shot against Anderson Silva, but first he had to coach season nine of The Ultimate Fighter against Dan Henderson.
Bisping faced Henderson at UFC 100 and was infamously knocked out in one of the greatest knockouts in MMA history. "The Count" rallied against Dennis Kang at UFC 105 in his native England, but once again, he'd have his momentum halted by another Pride legend, this time Wanderlei Silva who was dropping down to 185 for the first time.
Since that loss, Bisping has gone 4-1. The Brit decided to coach another season of The Ultimate Fighter in his downtime and when he finally got an opportunity to put his hands on "Mayhem," Bisping took full advantage, crushing his gassed opponent over the course of three rounds and eventually scoring a mercy stoppage after Miller refused to fight back from the relentless torrent of punches "The Count" was dropping on him.
Bisping was originally slated to take on Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2, but an injury to Mark Munoz granted him the opportunity to fight Chael Sonnen for number one contender. He eagerly accepted the bout and put up a hell of a fight, but came up short. Now, he'll be looking to get back on the winning track against Stann.
How he gets it done: Bisping has developed a style which plays into his skill-set very well in the last couple years. He doesn't have much one-punch knockout power, but he's very good at getting in, landing blows and getting out.
Stann is a competent striker with power in both hands, but he's not the most technical guy on the planet. Footwork will be key for Bisping. He needs to dart in, do his damage and dart out before Stann can get his hands on him.
Conditioning could be key as well. Bisping is one of the best conditioned fighters at 185 pounds and he's been able to take over late in fights due to his excellent pace. If Stann slows down, "The Count" will be more than happy to completely take over.
Record: 12-4 overall, 6-3 in the UFC
How he got here: If you really want the long (and highly entertaining version) check out Stann's book, Heart for the Fight, but for the condensed version, "The All-American" was a linebacker for the Navy, got interested in fighting while in the marines and would fight whenever he'd come home from Iraq, where he was a highly decorated officer.
Stann fought admirably in the WEC light heavyweight division, winning the title in just his sixth professional fight before Zuffa consolidated the division but he had trouble with the bigger, stronger light heavyweights in the UFC. After a 2-2 stint in the division, Stann made the decision to drop to the middleweight division.
As a 185-pounder, he now had a size and strength advantage over his opponents that he didn't have at 205. The ex-marine was able to showcase his new well-rounded skills with a triangle victory over Mike Massenzio and then followed it up by cracking Chris Leben's granite chin at UFC 125 with a first round technical knockout victory. Stann called out Wanderlei Silva but happily settled for Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago at UFC 132, defeating "The Sandman" by technical knockout in the second round.
The victory over Santiago put him in title contention and he was been matched up against Chael Sonnen at UFC 136 but was completely overwhelmed by the mouthy realter, eventually succumbing to an arm triangle choke in the second round. He'll got back on track against Alessio Sakara in his last bout, but he's got a much tougher task ahead of him on Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Stann has some of the most powerful strikes in the entire middleweight division. There are only a select few that have put Chris Leben's lights out with their fists and he's on that list.
"The All-American" has some ever-improving technique, but he's going to have to be careful against Bisping, a man who's got some terrific footwork, speed and movement. If Stann is robotic out there, Bisping is going to completely pick him apart on the feet.
Bisping has had trouble eating heavy shots in the past so there's definitely a huge chance for Stann to put his lights out if he can connect solidly. It's all about setting up opportunities to actually pull it off.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be Michael Bisping's inability to get that signature win. Sure, he's beat the Jason Millers of the world, but every time he's stepped in against a really notable fighter, (Sonnen, Henderson, Silva, Evans) he's come up short. Brian Stann might not be on the same level as those four fighters in terms of recognition, but he'd likely be one of the highest ranked opponents that Bisping has ever beaten if he can pull it off. We'll see if he can get over the hump on Saturday night.
Bottom Line: Two entertaining strikers will be throwing down on Saturday night. What's not to like? Bisping will be trying to get in, land, and get out while Stann will try to pound him with his huge right hand. We've seen Bisping in fights like this before (Akiyama, Leben, Henderson) and he's had some success and some failures in the same situation. Regardless of the outcome, this should be high octane action.
Who will come out on top at UFC 152? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!