One of the biggest upsets in UFC title-fight history went down this past Saturday night. Michael Bisping shocked the world when he knocked out Luke Rockhold to claim the UFC middleweight championship from the fallen titleholder. What made the win such a stunning result was the fact that Bisping, who got absolutely mauled by Rockhold not that long ago, took the fight on two weeks’ notice.
It was without a doubt the biggest win and grandest moment in the Brit’s long, roller-coaster ride of a UFC career. It was well publicized heading into UFC 199 that Bisping had the most UFC fights without ever getting a title shot, let alone a title win.
It wasn’t just anybody he was fighting, either. Since making his official debut in the UFC all the way back in 2006 at The Ultimate Fighter 3 Finale, Bisping has fought a who’s who of the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions over the years. In addition to a previous meeting with Rockhold, Bisping has been in the Octagon with Wanderlei Silva, Tim Kennedy, Anderson Silva, Brian Stann, Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans.
Although Bisping has arguably one of the best resumes we have seen in the middleweight division, most people in the sport never seemed to utter Bisping’s name when talking about the all-time greats of the division. For many reasons, including his polarizing antics outside the cage, Bisping was usually labeled as a gatekeeper. Despite his level of competition and the wins he holds over some very talented fighters, Bisping never got the recognition a track record like his should warrant.
This much was obvious when Chris Weidman pulled out of UFC 199 with a neck injury, leaving the champ Rockhold without an opponent just weeks before the event. The UFC, the company that knows more than anybody what a guy like Bisping has accomplished, did not give him a call first. Even coming off a victory over Anderson Silva, a guy who many consider to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport, Bisping was passed over in favor of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Bisping was, by all accounts, one of the last options for the company. Jacare, the UFC’s first choice, needed knee surgery and would be unavailable to take the fight. This left the promotion with Bisping as its best option.
All those naysayers and people who overlook the type of career Bisping has put together over the years have nothing to point to now. Still, some are putting more stock into the fact that Rockhold overlooked him and not that Bisping put together a beautiful combination and final sequence to put Rockhold’s lights out.
There will always be those detractors who will find a negative in almost all situations, and Bisping’s career is a perfect example of that. From “pillow hands” to the idea that he always finds a way to lose the big fights, we’ve heard virtually everything at this point. Now, regardless of what you might think of him as a person and no matter how much you want to downplay his career accomplishments, when you look at Bisping’s legacy, there will always be a UFC middleweight championship next to his name. That is something no one can ever take away from him, and it only solidifies everything Bisping has achieved as a mixed martial artist.