Michael Bisping did little to alter his heel image during his stint as a coach on this season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Jason “Mayhem” Miller, but the British middleweight earned himself cheers from the crowd at the Palms Casino in Vegas tonight, beating Mayhem by third-round TKO after a grueling battle.
Fighting in the UFC for the first time since a one-off appearance in 2005 and a heavy underdog against Bisping, Mayhem came out to fight strong. The 30-year-old took the fight’s momentum early on, giving the noted British kickboxer trouble standing early on before taking him to the mat and establishing mount against the fence. Throughout the first round, in every area, Mayhem surprised and frustrated his opponent.
And then he got tired.
Whether it was the long layoff, an adrenaline dump, an injury during training camp – by the second round, Mayhem’s hands and jaw continued to drop lower, his technique started failing and Bisping began to take over the fight. Miller was clearly frustrated by this and not giving up, but his body wasn’t cooperating and his opponent – who looked uncharacteristically tired himself – was beating him down.
Mayhem fought back as he could, but his face continued to get bloodier and more swollen and Bisping kept on running away with the fight. The finish came when Mayhem’s gas tank was so low that he could do barely more than turtle as Bisping drove knees into his midsection. Mayhem popped up directly after the finish was called, clearly hurt worse by the loss than by the damage he’d absorbed.
“I trained really hard for this fight,” Mayhem said. “I’m sorry, guys, I got tired. I can’t make any excuses about it. For all the boos Michael Bisping gets, as a fighter he deserves your applause.”
For his part, Bisping won with grace, giving Mayhem credit for being “a tough son of a gun” and admitting that he might not be ready for Anderson Silva after that performance.