This new series will focus on the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing’s best fighters, past and present.
The first installment will focus on the only British fighter to ever hold a UFC title, ‘The Count’ Michael Bisping!
Manchester-born Michael Bisping began training Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 8 and at 15 competed as an amateur in Britain’s first ‘no holds barred’ competition. He also enjoyed a short kickboxing career.
At the age of 18 Bisping was forced to abandon his full-time training for a ‘real job’. He had to work in low-labor jobs at factories, slaughterhouses and demolition companies.
After a brief spell away from competition, Bisping made his professional mixed martial arts debut at Pride and Glory in April 2004, taking a submission victory over Steve Mathews. In only his third MMA bout, Bisping became the Cage Rage Light-Heavyweight champion by defeating Mark Epstein via knockout.
The Manchester-born fighter went on to win the Cage Warriors Light-Heavyweight title, knocking out Dave Radford in the very first round. And made his debut for FX3 Kickboxing winning the Light-Heavyweight title with victory over Alex Cook.
Making a name for himself on the regional scene, only helped catch the attention of the UFC and President Dana White. Michael Bisping was on a meteoric rise.
In June 2016 he got the call up to be on the UFC’s reality TV series ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. Bisping went unbeaten and won the third installment of the series which provided a spring-board for this new-found talent.
Recording four wins on the bounce, former 205-pound champion Rashad Evans would be in his path. At 14-0 ‘Suga Rashad’ put the first blemish on the career of the Brit.
After picking himself up Bisping won three on the bounce over Charles McCarthy, Jason Day and Chris Leben. A Middleweight title eliminator fight against veteran of the sport Dan Henderson would be next. Again facing another set-back.
Fights with Wanderlei Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Luke Rockhold would go on to define Bisping’ career as the likable under-dog who never backed down from a fight.
His luck would finally change. In February 2016, a battle tested Bisping defeated former Middleweight champion and face of the company Anderson Silva in London’s O2 Arena. This was for sure the highlight of his career!
A man who seemed to like a rematch, took a short-notice title fight with champion Luke Rockhold in 2014. Bisping KO’d-Rockhold in the first round to finally get his hands on the UFC title that evaded him throughout his career!
Bisping went on to defend the title in his home-town of Manchester against another opponent he faced in the past. The great Dan Henderson.
In a close contest ‘The Count’ just edged this one by the skin of his teeth. However, suffered a broken orbital and damage to his retina due to Hendo’s heavy strikes.
This sidelined the Middleweight champion for over a year and questioning would he ever be able to fight again?
At UFC 217 in November 2017, George Saint Pierre was teased out of retirement for a huge super-fight with Bisping. The unbeaten GSP is considered the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
Bisping would loose his title in a one sided contest, that was just one step too far for the Englishman.
Unhappy with his performance the former champion took a short notice fight just two weeks later against Kelvin Gastelum. Many questioned this decision but not the heart shown.
This would prove to be costly, with Bisping suffering a devastating first round knockout loss. This would be the last time the former Middleweight champion would make the walk to the octagon.
After a stellar career racking up the second most UFC wins with 20 and second most fights in UFC history with 29.
Holding four titles in four different promotions, fighting the toughest in the sport, never backing down from a contest and leading the way for British MMA is how Bisping will be remembered.
He was inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame this year and is currently a commentator for the promotion. Happy retirement Mr Bisping!
Make sure to keep an eye out for the rest of our series and other combat content on Toalsbetblog.com