Say this for Michael Bisping: the guy is persistent. After a career defined ups and down aplenty, the British Middleweight is once again knocking on the door of a title shot after his unanimous decision win over Brian Stann at UFC 152 last night (Sept. 22, 2012) in Toronto, Canada.
There are some fighters who rub mixed martial arts (MMA) fans the wrong way, and Bisping seems to be Mayor of that irritated town ... at least outside of the United Kingdom. Whether it's taking a controversial decision over Matt Hamill, spitting on Jorge Rivera or the various fouls "The Count" committed in that bout, or simply coming off as a bit too pompous, the dude has a gift for being abrasive.
But he's consistent, ever-improving, and equipped with a solid gas tank and guts. And all of this was apparent Saturday night against Stann, a guy with more athletic ability and power who -- like many of Bisping's opponents --couldn't sustain it over the long haul in the face of Bisping's better head for strategy and fighting to sway the judges.Ever since Bisping won season three of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), he's been painstakingly matched to build a credible case for a title shot. After dropping down to 185 pounds when it became apparent that light heavyweight was clearly not his proper division, the branding and rebuilding of Bisping has been a long process, one interrupted brutally by Dan Henderson and in little more than decision-loss hiccups to Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen.
Bisping may indeed get the next title shot against Anderson Silva, and it may be one of the longer-odds challenges in recent memory. Stylistically, he has all the wrong tools that you'd want to deal with Silva.
He lacks world-class wrestling -- though his takedown defense is pretty solid and his takedowns have evolved from mediocre to decent -- and he relies on a points-based, busy striking style with modest-at-best power. Both of those tendencies are likely to backfire terribly against Silva, but the champ has pretty much cleaned out the division.
The curious case of Chris Weidman being given Tim Boetsch at UFC 154 instead of a shot at Silva pretty much makes the case for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in bold print -- it's determined to milk every bit of promotional mojo out of Bisping they can and get him a title shot. Bisping has always carried extra promotional heft because of his U.K. fan base and the recognition he's built for himself as a TUF winner.
Silva's journey to 205 against Stephan Bonnar next month is more of a keep-busy type of fight, as it will only set the stage to create serious talk of Silva at 205. He'll destroy Bonnar, a game but aged fighter who hit his competitive plateau years ago. The middleweight cupboard pretty much has Bisping on the shelf - - despite the fact that Weidman would be a deserved 2-1 or better favorite to beat him -- and it appears the UFC is hell-bent on getting him a title shot.
And, if true, good for him.
It shows that persistence pays off, and it never hurts to have a little help in high places.