One decade and 25 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches. That's how long it took Michael Bisping (29-7) to earn a shot at Middleweight gold, something that had escaped him his entire career.
He made the most of his first opportunity.
Bisping, 37, rode the momentum of a three-fight win streak and a recent win over Anderson Silva into the Octagon on Saturday night (June 4, 2016) and knocked out Luke Rockhold (15-3) in the opening round of the UFC 199, which took place inside The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The brash English veteran clipped Rockhold with a left hand that sent the now-former champion reeling across the Octagon. Bisping jumped on him and landed another picturesque left hand that put Rockhold on the canvas. After another few punches, Rockhold was out cold, forcing referee "Big" John McCarthy to step in and wave it off. In the chaotic process, Bisping became the new UFC 185-pound champion and first from the United Kingdom in UFC history.
The official time of the stoppage came at 3:36 of the first round.
It was an incredible win for the 12-year mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran, who proved the doubters wrong and avenged a prior loss to Rockhold from Nov. 2014, where he was submitted in the second round.
Bisping took the title fight on two weeks notice after former champion Chris Weidman withdrew because of an injury and jumped at the chance to fight for the title he had been hunting after his whole career. It's a career that has had its share of ups and downs, and key losses when he was close to getting into contention for a title shot.
Now he's finally fled from the shadow of the brutal knockout at the hands of Dan Henderson at UFC 100 and also overcome a serious eye injury (detached retina) that occurred during a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in 2013 and has plagued him for the last several years.
"The Count" stayed the course, continued to fight on and make the most of his opportunities to put himself in position for a possible chance at the middleweight title and finally, with an injury and some favorable timing, he got it and shocked in the MMA world by knocking out the heavily-favored Rockhold.
Rockhold came into the fight ultra confident and clearly took Bisping for granted and said as much after the bout's conclusion. The Santa Cruz-based fighter suffered his first defeat since losing to Vitor Belfort in his Octagon debut and had his five-fight win streak snapped in defeat.
This sport never ceases to amaze and you just never know when moments like this are going to happen. Bisping's win is the biggest victory of his career and if not for Weidman's injury withdrawal two week's ago, he wouldn't have been fighting tonight.
He stepped up, took the fight he always wanted to have, but couldn't get for more than one decade and now he's bringing the UFC Middleweight title home with him to England.
Michael Bisping and his journey to the top is easily one of the best stories in the history of UFC.