Boy o boy. Was there a lot of smack talk preceding the bout. So much was said in the build-up of the fight; promises were made, threats were issued and the mind-games were in session. Relentless in the war of words, Bisping fought the ‘battle before the battle’ viciously, calling the once Greatest of all Time, steroid abuser, an impotent coward and most of all, ‘a cheat’– and last but not least an expletive that starts with a P and ends with a Y. If I was Anderson Silva, I’d probably have murderous intent.
The Two warriors – one considered the greatest of all time with a tainted history; the other a long time veteran and pioneer of the sport in Britain who’s wanted this fight for more than half a decade.
Both fighters took the center of the ring with Herb Dean ready to raise the victor’s hand upon announcement. A bloodied up Micheal Bisping stands in the center of the O2 arena octagon of his hometown in Manchester while a visibly tired but otherwise undamaged Anderson Silva stands to the referee’s right – both men expecting to get their hand raised. Who, in their right minds ever thought this would go to a decision?
But first, let’s talk about the action rather than the result.
The crowd greeted both fighters with extreme enthusiasm. Manchester saw their very own superstar Micheal ‘The Count’ Bisping step into the cage to fight his idol of the past – ‘The Spider’, Anderson Silva. How can a crowd NOT receive the legendary Brazilian and greatest champion the UFC ever produced.
Round 1: The match begins. No touching gloves. They hit the action, straight off the bat. Anderson Silva seemed tentative as a confident Bisping meets him at the center of the octagon with his impressive foot-work and volume based kick boxing style. The Count popped the jab with precision and on point, with zero telegraphing. Silva was carrying on his antics by being elusive and (as usual) ‘strange’ with his movements. Bisping landed a solid left hook followed with a straight right by the end of the round – most likely earning Micheal the 1st.
Round 2: The round was closely contested. Bisping had Silva’s back against the fence the entire round where Silva was trying to pull his opponent into his usual mind-games, looking for an opening. Bisping – wouldn’t have any of it, he calculatedly backed off, avoided getting reeled into the Spider’s game and recalibrating his attack. Bisping made Silva miss and punished him with a counter-left hook and then a clean left hook, right hand combo to plant the Legend on his backside. Bisping swarmed on him, landing some ground and pound before the round ended. Saved by the bell? Maybe. Round 2 in the bag for Bisping.
Round 3: This round held the bulk of controversy. Again an evenly contested round, where Silva was a little more aggressive. Towards the end of the round, Silva starts pouring it on violently, with a Muay Thai onslaught on Manchester’s own. During the flurry, Bisping’s mouth piece was knocked out. Now as per fight rules, the referee needs to STOP the fight to get the mouth piece, but the referee also must do it in a way where the action is not compromised. Bisping calls on Herb Dean and points at the mouth piece, taking his eyes off Silva for just a second when a flying knee knocks Micheal Bisping down immediately RIGHT at the end of the round. He pleads with the ref, stating that he is ALRIGHT and can STILL fight. Whew. Another save by the bell? This round went to Silva. Bisping is a bloody mess by now, one eye swollen bleeding, and his face slightly reconfigured.
Round 4: TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS! Bisping looks BUSTED UP. He backs Silva up against the cage for most of the round, landing flurry over flurry, and volume based combinations. The Brazilian legend kept resorting to putting his back against the cage looking to counter the ‘Count’, but the Brits Technical Kickboxing style was too fast and sharp for the kind of slow, one shot Muay Thai destruction Anderson Silva brings. Bisping appeared to land more shots here, with a few leg kicks but no serious ‘game changing’ damage. The round went to Bisping.
Round 5: The LAST round of the main event. Silva landed several power shots that had the Brit potentially in trouble, hitting with a front kick to the face, similar to the one that shutdown Vitor Belfort in an instant. Surprisingly enough, the Count took it and absorbed it like a sponge, back peddling him ever so slightly. Silva displayed most aggression towards the end of the round, desperate to score more or finish the fight against the disrespecting Brit. He was pouring it on but it was too late by then. The fight was over. Both fighters were still standing.
Bisping would raise his hand in victory as the judges scored the contest by close unanimous decision with all 3 judges scoring the contest 48 – 47 in favour Micheal Bisping.
Bisping was visibly emotional while Silva nodded his head in disagreement.
The fight was extremely close but the victor was obvious. Dan Hardy, commentator and ex-UFC title contender interviewed Bisping. What followed, SHOCKED us all. The Count thanked his fans, friends and family and went onto addressing Silva.
“I worshipped this guy. This guy is the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. That’s why I’m so emotional right now. This has been a lifelong quest. Anderson, I know I said things .. the respect I have for you, you cannot measure. You inspired me. When I started, I was a young, cocky kid. I’d say things I’d regret and then I’d take a look at this guy and say, ‘wow, I wanna be like that guy.’ Anderson, thank you.”
Silva obviously disagreed with the result. Here’s what he had to say.
“Here’s the deal, you can’t win one way, they try to take it away the other way. That’s it. You saw how that went, right? So, there’s nothing left to say. I fought for you, and that’s it. Thank you for the support. My family, I’m coming back home, I’m fine. Mission accomplished, mission given, but sometimes it’s like in Brazil, total corruption.”
The show of respect between these two by the end of that war was the stuff of true sportsmanship. Two warriors went at it and left it all in the cage. In such a fight, there is truly no loser.
Where does this place Micheal Bisping after beating the most greatest mixed martial artist of all time? And what happens to the legend of the Spider himself?