Michael Bisping always envisioned a potential showdown with Anderson Silva being for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title. Instead, it came on his road to said crown.
Silva is widely considered the greatest Middleweight competitor in mixed martial arts (MMA) history because of the dominant 16-fight unbeaten streak he went on as champion in UFC from Oct. 2006 to July 2013. Dethroned by Chris Weidman, three years later and Silva found himself matched with Bisping in London, England.
“Obviously for me, fighting Anderson Silva, that was a huge deal to me,” Bisping told MMA Junkie. “I’d never fought for the belt back then, didn’t think I was ever gonna get the chance. Obviously with my eye injury and my window of opportunity closing and my window of vision closing, as well — pardon the pun.
“So when I got the opportunity to fight Anderson Silva, for me, this was as good as a world title fight,” he continued. “I looked up to and I admired Anderson Silva so much, but I always thought I could beat him. I always thought I had a good style. I thought I had it figured out, and I wasn’t afraid of him.”
By this point, “The Count” had regained momentum putting together a two-fight winning streak after a spotty alternating of wins and losses in seven bouts from 2012 to 2014. In one of those losses, Bisping suffered permanent damage at the hands of former Light Heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort.
Despite his success against Silva, Bisping still was forced to dig deep during one of the sport’s most dramatic moments. In the end, Bisping won via unanimous decision before going on to dethrone Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 later that year.
“The fight was going well, kind of dropped him in the first round, dropped him in the second round, landed some good ground-and-pound, and the third round was going my way, as well,” Bisping said. “I was doing good then Anderson catches me with something, my mouthpiece flies out — this is my bad eye (points to right eye), so Anderson’s in front of me, and I’m backing away, and I know the rules.
“I have to wait until there’s a lull in the action and for my money, there’s a lull in the action, and I’m backing away, and I’m like, ‘I’ve got no mouthpiece in,’” he continued. “Anderson’s coming on the attack, but I’m backing off, so I turn and I look at Herb Dean and go, ‘Herb, my mouthpiece.’ And I point at it on the floor, but as I said, this eye doesn’t work very well, so when I turned there, Anderson’s there (right side), and I couldn’t see him, and then when I looked back, Anderson’s in mid-air, boom! Lands a beautiful flying knee.”