It may come as no shock that ailments of the body may be overlooked or just plain ignored by professional athletes. Many professional fighters have even gone on record as saying no one is 100 percent when they step inside the cage on fight night. So it should come as no surprise, too, that it can sometimes become too much for them to handle and their future, not only as a fighter, but as a father, mother, husband, wife or friend is a stake. This was the case for former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Weidman was forced to withdraw from his shot at redemption against Luke Rockhold, the man who pounded the title from his hands. Weidman went on social media to explain his reasoning for his inability to fight on June 4. His explanation was thorough and also painted a scary picture of what could happen if he did not deal with his health issues here and now. The problem is that UFC 199 is less than three weeks away. So, how was the UFC going to find someone on that short of notice? And who would it be? Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza? Derek Brunson? Michael Bisping?
Many fans made it very clear that the best choice was Jacare, who was coming off a one-sided beatdown of Vitor Belfort just last weekend. Sadly, Souza tore his meniscus and would not be able to compete against Rockhold.
Bisping’s entrance into the title picture is actually not a bad thing. The Brit is now bigger than he ever has been due to his most recent victory, a routing of former UFC middleweight champion and one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva.
Bisping has been so close to a title shot on numerous occasions, only to end up on the losing end of the fight that would have earned him the chance at championship gold. The most recent occasion came against the aforementioned Belfort at UFC on FX: Bisping vs. Belfort in 2013. This was the last time that title shot and Bisping have been mentioned in the same sentence. So, the time is now for Bisping to prove that he can claim a UFC championship.
Furthermore, Bisping, just like Weidman, has something to prove at UFC 199. He intends to show the world that he is better than he has ever been.
The biggest factor in this fight is not the fact that Bisping is taking this fight on only two and a half weeks’ notice, but that Rockhold may come into this fight with a sense of invincibility knowing that not only has Bisping had such a short time to prepare, but that Rockhold has already beaten the Brit once. However, I recently heard a statement about Bisping that rings resounding amounts of truth: “Sleep on Bisping and you will get destroyed.” It may be a little intense, but that’s exactly what happens.
It happened to Cung Le, who fell to Bisping in the fourth round of their headlining fight at UFC Fight Night 48.
It happened to C.B. Dollaway, who dropped a decision to Bisping at UFC 186.
It happened to Thales Leites, who was on his way to the top after rattling off five wins in his triumphant return to the Octagon. Bisping, albeit via split decision, ended up derailing the Brazilian’s chances at UFC championship gold.
And, most recently, it happened to the aforementioned Silva. It was a fight that Bisping had been rallying to have for years while Silva sat at the top of the division. Bisping always seemed so close, yet so far away. So when the chance finally came, even given that Silva was 0-3 with one no-contest in his last four fights, it still rang true that Bisping has what it takes to possibly become champion.
Do many fans and fighters think that Bisping, who won The Ultimate Fighter 3 over a decade ago, will finally take fate by the reigns and master his own destiny? Probably not. But that is the beauty of MMA. Weidman wasn’t expected to defeat the great Anderson Silva not once but twice, but it happened. It wasn’t widely accepted that Ronda Rousey would ever suffer defeat, especially not against Holly Holm, but she did. And it wasn’t even a popular opinion that Conor McGregor would actually lose a fight, even if it was two weight classes above his own and against an experienced veteran like Nate Diaz, but he did.
So, really, not only does Bisping have the opportunity of a lifetime, to say the least, but it may well be the last time he is ever in the title picture again. Bisping is 37 years old. He obviously isn’t getting any younger, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record. He is 7-3 in his last 10 bouts, losing only to Chael Sonnen and the aforementioned Belfort and Rockhold. The pressure on Rockhold is even greater since he has already beaten Bisping once. Add in the confidence Rockhold is carrying into this fight after capturing the title from Weidman, and it’s going to make Rockhold a dangerous opponent. However, Bisping knows the end may be near, and that knowledge just might make him the most dangerous opponent that Rockhold has ever and will ever face.