There aren't that many fighters so widely disliked as Michael Bisping.
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3, Bisping has made a name for himself with a cocky -- somewhat arrogant -- demeanor. Though he has never risen to his title aspirations, it would be untrue to say he has not achieved much in mixed martial arts (MMA), proving over the years that he is a very capable and high-quality fighter.
That said, "The Count" has failed on numerous occasions to make it to the elite level. And, at 35, his window is closing to do so. Many of his losses have come right at a time where he would've broken into the top of his division, but unfortunately for him, it has just not worked out.
When Bisping fights Tim Kennedy in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale tonight (Weds., April 16, 2014), he will have his chance to make up for his past failures. In fact, if Bisping defeats Kennedy, it will be his first win over a fighter in the Top 10.
Let that sink in.
For all the credit Bisping gets as a fighter -- mostly deserved -- he really has no big wins to his name. Bisping has talked many times about trying to reach the title, but does a fighter whose top wins are Alan Belcher, Brian Stann and Chris Leben really deserve to be mentioned in the title picture?
At a time when Middleweight finally looks rejuvenated, with new additions to the division and a new champion (Chris Weidman), it will be difficult more than ever for Bisping to make a rise to the top; however, one could also argue that this is his best chance to do so.
Stylistically, he has something for many of the top fighters in the division, even Anderson Silva., which could not be said if he were to fight former champion
"The Count" is very good at making opponents fight in his preferred area of striking, but he isn't the perfect striker by any means. His defense is generally good, but he has noticeable lapses such as circling right into Dan Henderson's notorious H-Bomb.
Luckily for Bisping, he has a lot less firepower to worry about in facing TIm Kennedy, who is known as a grinder, not a striker.
Looking at this fight objectively, Bisping should win this fight comfortably. With his skillset, he should be able to keep Kennedy at bay in the wrestling department and outdo him in the striking exchanges. That said, Kennedy still packs a punch -- and should Bisping let the apparent pre-fight animosity get to him -- he could find himself in trouble. If he lets up takedowns or gets caught, that could be game over for him because Kennedy -- the limited fighter that he is -- is very good at capitalizing on anything his opponents give to him.
Ultimately, Bisping really needs to be sharp for this fight, and if he is, it's hard to envision him losing. For a guy who has been around this long to finally be looking at what should be his first Top 10 win is kind of odd, especially given that his name has been brought up in title discussions. Bisping needs this win desperately, and as favorable as it may be, his match with Kennedy is by no means an easy fight.
What the future holds for Michael Bisping may be interesting, and if he wins this fight against Kennedy, UFC could push him toward a title shot being that he's a bankable star for them in Europe. Regardless, he does have to earn his way to that shot, and Kennedy is the first step in a list of top fighters he'd have to topple.