After winning the light heavyweight division during season three of Ultimate Fighter, cocky British fighter Michael Bisping rolled off three more wins in the UFC’s deepest division before dropping a close split decision to Rashad Evans at UFC 78.
After his defeat in November 2007, Bisping dropped down to middleweight and proceeded to win three more fights in a row, catapulting himself into contention for the 185-pound belt and setting up a showdown at UFC 100 with veteran Dan Henderson. That fight didn't turn out too well for Bisping.
The brash Brit called the Henderson fight a “poor performance by me,” and expressed dismay that Henderson’s signing with Strikeforce killed any possibility of a rematch. “I feel I could beat him on another night,” he said.
But in the here and now Bisping is preparing for his next fight against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110 on Feb. 20 in Australia. Silva has dropped five of his last six fights, but the MMA legend is known for his unbridled aggression and ability to put on great fights.
“I grew up watching him in Pride, it’s an honor fighting Wanderlei,” Bisping said. “Wanderlei is a strong puncher but I plan on meeting him head on and putting him on his back.”
Bisping’s last fight, a victory over Denis Kang at UFC 105 in Manchester, England, put him back on the winning track and moving toward what he hopes will be an eventual middleweight title shot.
He realizes that a fight against a legend like Silva will be no walk in the park, and stressed his desire to keep evolving as a fighter. “I work hard day in and day out,” he said. “I am nowhere near a finished product.”
Before the Henderson fight Bisping believed he could stand and trade with anyone in the world and not worry about being knocked out. For UFC 110, he believes the nature of his camp is a big advantage. “We don’t have to look hard for guys who like to swing,” he said. “Wolfslair is full of them.”
The most high-profile member of the British gym, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, has a history with Silva. The two fought a classic trilogy of fights that ended when Jackson knocked Silva out at UFC 92 in December 2008. “Having someone like Rampage who has experience against Wanderlei is invaluable,” Bisping said.
Regardless of the training camp or past experiences, on Feb. 20, Bisping will be standing toe-to-toe with one of the most feared strikers in the history of the sport and trying to prove that he can indeed stand in with the elite strikers in mixed martial arts.