If he hadn’t been cast for the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” MMA fans would’ve eventually been introduced to Michael Bisping. The best UK prospect in the sport at the time, Bisping would’ve found his way into the organization and into the hearts & minds of fans worldwide sooner than later. He was that talented and a seemingly “can’t miss” type of fighting prospect. With remarkable cardio, first rate hands and an underrated ground game Bisping was the sort of prospect that would define the early years of the show.
Before top prospects wound up debuting in the UFC properly and built up slowly, the show could find a remarkable set of fighters to introduce in the days of Zuffa’s first big explosion following the show’s introduction. Bisping wasn’t quite in the same category as Jon Jones was before his debut, the future world champion in the making, but he wasn’t far from it. He was back then in the same position that Rory MacDonald would be in now: a terrific prospect looking to win the show and build upon it from there.
In today’s UFC he’d debut on a UFC in the UK undercard and slowly be groomed for stardom. If any fighter marks the transition of the UFC from the final days of the fringe, it’s “The Count” for a variety of reasons. And while his initial ascent to stardom came from being in the right weight class at the right time with the right cast to become a star, it’s his talents that have him on the verge of a title shot.
Bisping’s strength as a fighter comes from what seems to from a couple things. It keys off his size, for starters. Bisping was a light heavyweight who didn’t have to cut a lot of weight to make 205, and is now a large middleweight who makes a big cut to make 185. It gives him a distinct advantage in a number of areas, most notably power. He’s not a one punch knockout artist but rather one who relies on a series of power shots to finish an opponent. His ability to connect with a handful of moderately powerful shots in a row puts him in position to finish fights at any point.
Bisping’s ability to rattle off punches like that comes from strong footwork and head movement with his striking. Bisping had a fairly substantive career in the UK kickboxing scene once upon a time and it shows in things like how he holds his hands and his leg kicks. It plays into his takedown defense as well; Bisping uses his body movement to keep opponents at bay and frustrate them before they go for takedowns. Before he was knocked out by Dan Henderson in spectacular fashion Bisping used good footwork and a long jab to keep the Olympic wrestler away from the clinch. He did the same to frustrate Rashad Evans, as well.
Bisping’s other impressive feature is that he’s seemingly inexhaustible. His first punch has as much on it as his last; Bisping has cardio to spare and never seems to gas out. He may have lost in the past but it was never because he didn’t have any energy left. It makes him a tough opponent to try and outlast; Bisping pushes a tough pace and never relents from it.
That’ll be the key to his fight this weekend; if he can make Miller relent under his pace and pressure.
Tags: jason mayhem miller, Michael Bisping, Mixed Martial Arts, The Ultimate Fighter, TUF 14