mma / Columns

Michael Bisping And The Value Of Being Available

November 23, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Lambert
Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping was never a great fighter. He was decent in every area, but he never excelled in one area that made you take notice of his skills. He wasn’t a dominant wrestler, a powerful striker, or a slick grappler. From the moment he won The Ultimate Fighter 3 to the moment he dropped the middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre earlier this month, he never really improved. He’s been the same high volume striker with the same defensive deficiencies for the entirety of his UFC run.

And yet, Michael Bisping was the perfect UFC fighter.

He was tough, durable, took fights on short notice, did his own promotion, beat the guys he needed to beat, and lost to the guys he was supposed to lose to.

You knew what to expect from Bisping when he stepped into the cage. He was going to lose to the elite fighters and he was going to beat the guys who would never have title hopes. There were some surprises in there. He probably should have beaten Tim Kennedy, but his lack of defensive wrestling cost him. He probably should have lost to Luke Rockhold the second time, but Rockhold came in cocky and Bisping managed to surprise him.

Look at Bisping’s record. Aside from his upset of Rockhold, his best win is either against an old Anderson Silva, an old Dan Henderson, or Brian Stann. But his worst loss is to Kennedy. That loss aside, every other loss came against a former champion, a future champion, or Chael Sonnen.

Bisping missed a year of action and is still at the top of multiple UFC categories, including wins, fight time, and strikes landed.

Aside from Rich Franklin, he fought all the top names of his era. Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen were the top names in the division for the better part of ten years.

He was never good enough to become champion, but he was always good enough to tell you who would never have a championship opportunity.

At age 37, he became champion due to circumstance. If Anderson Silva doesn’t prematurely celebrate or doesn’t let Bisping off the hook after knocking him out, Bisping is not in a position to get a title shot. If Chris Weidman doesn’t get injured, Bisping has to win at least one more fight before getting a title shot. If Rockhold shows Bisping any respect, he likely dispatches of him in the same manner as their first fight.

To Bisping’s credit, he took advantage of those circumstances. He came back in the Silva fight to win a unanimous decision. He used his name and ability to sell a fight to jump the middleweight line. And he made Rockhold pay for underestimating him.

Three weeks ago, he had a chance to defeat arguably the greatest fighter of all-time. He failed in the cage, but he finally succeed outside the cage. His years of hard work and trash talk landed him the biggest payday of his career.

He was knocked down and choked unconscious in that bout. He was hit with a 30 day medical suspension, which is being ignored so he can fight on Saturday. Mark Hunt was pulled for openly admitting that he suffers from brain trauma. Bisping has never admitted such a thing, but he’s been a professional fighter since 2004. He’s absorbed over 1,000 significant strikes in his career. He’s been knocked down countless times.

The UFC should be ashamed for allowing Bisping to fight on Saturday. But it’s another reminder of the former champions greatest attribute: availability.

A win or loss on Saturday won’t define Bisping’s career. He’s in the twilight of what has to be considered a successful career. The only person who was able to do more with less was Forrest Griffin. And I’d argue that Griffin was more talented than Bisping at his peak.

By Bisping’s own indication, he won’t be around much longer. He’ll likely get an opponent of his choosing to face that the London show at March. He’ll likely take a winnable fight that allows him to go out with a victory. Hopefully Matt Hamill is by his phone.

I’ve spent the majority of my MMA fandom disliking Bisping. As he enters the end of his career, I’m going to appreciate all he did for the sport. Every fighter should aspire to be better than him. But if your career turns out like Bisping’s, that’s still pretty damn good.

I’m on Twitter @jeremylambert88

article topics :

Michael Bisping, UFC, Jeremy Lambert