This Saturday night, Michael “The Count” Bisping will meet Chael Sonnen in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs. Davis in a fight that will determine the next challenger to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s throne.
Though most expect Sonnen to beat Bisping, the thought of The Count even being up for a title shot has many up in arms, as it’s widely perceived that The Count hasn’t done enough to earn that opportunity. Before Mark Muñoz got injured and forced out of the fight with Sonnen, Bisping was set to face Demian Maia in a sort of “next-contender-in-line-after-Muñoz-or-Sonnen” fight; with The Filipino Wrecking Machine now laid up with a busted elbow, Bisping got the call to move up and face Sonnen, essentially getting grandfathered into a number one contender’s bout.
Though his case certainly isn’t as strong as Sonnen’s, it’s hardly a crime for the talented Brit to finally get called up for a chance at UFC gold.
First off, Bisping is the only top ten ranked middleweight on the UFC’s roster who hasn’t already had a crack at The Spider that is also winning and uninjured. Though he has yet to put together a run in his nearly six-year tenure with the promotion that’s had people clamoring for him to get a title shot, Bisping has only lost three of his fifteen UFC fights and he did it to the best in the world. Aside from defeats to Rashad Evans (at light heavyweight), Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva, Bisping has – as Sonnen himself has been pointing out – been nothing but dominant throughout his UFC career (save for a sketchy decision over Matt Hamill back in the day).
The Count is currently riding a four-fight winning streak that includes victories over Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera and Jason “Mayhem” Miller – not exactly a murderer’s row, but certainly a respectable list of wins. By comparison, Mark Muñoz was up for a possible shot at the belt with only fourteen pro fights to his credit and his own four-fight winning streak that included wins over Chris Leben, Demian Maia, CB Dollaway and Aaron Simpson.
Though not as obviously powerful as a Dan Henderson or as thoroughly aggressive as Wanderlei Silva or Brian Stann, Bisping is one of the most all-around complete fighters in the division. He marries crisp, technical striking with a respectable submission game, solid counter-wrestling and impeccable conditioning to pose a serious threat to most any opponent on most any night.
One of the biggest knocks on Bisping is that he doesn’t have any victories over the division’s top ten; a win over Sonnen would be a win over the number two middleweight in the world and would go a very long way in legitimizing Bisping’s title shot. If he loses, he wasn’t ready. But, if Bisping beats Chael Sonnen, there should be absolutely no griping when he’s awarded the spoils of victory.
As Bisping himself put it: “If I don’t beat him, I didn’t deserve a title shot against Anderson Silva anyway.”