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Can we count on "The Count?"

Preview by Brady Crytzer
Photo: Chris Cozzone

There was an anxious anticipation in the air when Michael “The Count” Bisping stepped into the Octagon at UFC 75 in London, England. Looking back at that UFC UK debut, Bisping could not have been entirely comfortable with his TKO victory over Elvis Sinosic, for he was nearly stopped with a knee, and he very narrowly escaped a kimura shoulder lock. Nothing came easy for the Battling Brit that night.

The comfort did not improve, one fight later, when, across the ring was the immensely powerful world class wrestler Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. That night would go down in history as the first truly controversial decision on a worldwide scale in UFC history as Bisping won a narrow three-round split decision.

Since his victory on The Ultimate Fighter 3, it was said that “The Count” had the potential of being the very best fighter to ever compete on the program. So, nearly two years later the question begs to be asked . . . why all the heat?

The short answer is, Bisping has not had an “easy” fight since he began his UFC career. At UFC 66 in December of 2006 Bisping had his hands full on the mat with a feisty Eric “Ravishing Red” Schaeffer. At UFC 70, Sinosic had Bisping spooked throughout the fight, and, at UFC 75, Hamill’s utter refusal to be defeated still has fans arguing over the judges decision.

Finally, at UFC 78, fellow TUF winner Rashad Evans proved that he was just too much for the Manchester native . . . or was he? Some say it was simply a case of right place-wrong weight class. Perhaps the truth hurts: Bisping just isn’t a light heavyweight.

At UFC 83 in Montreal, Bisping took to the scales weighing in 20 pounds lighter than ever before. At the middleweight limit, it appeared that “The Count” was reborn.

As fight fans, we are all familiar with the notion that less weight means a higher success rate. Just look at Randy Couture and BJ Penn. But, what of the dark side of dropping down? Cutting weight has effectively retired former IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd after he was painfully cut down by Shaun George earlier this month. 

When Bisping took to the cage to square off with “Chainsaw” Charles McCarthy, however, things were an entirely different story. Bisping took the fight to his opponent and unleashed a devastating barrage of punches. With his man stunned, he finished him off with over a dozen unanswered knees. Bisping had, for the first time, brutalized an opponent in the UFC Octagon. It was just too easy.

Losing weight is one thing, but breaking down an opponent at a subatomic level is another. Bisping 2.0 seemed like a bigger, stronger and more vicious fighter. It appeared that in a division with little substance, there was finally something we could “count” on.

It is all too soon to begin the blasphemous commentary on whether the new and improved Bisping could hold a candle to the pound for pound king Anderson Silva, but at this stage he doesn’t really have to.

On Saturday, June 7th “The Count” returns to the UK to battle a very solid middleweight newcomer in Jason “Dooms” Day. With all the hunger and drive to do great things in the division, Day will bring the best out of Bisping . . . or destroy him in the process.

At 185, Bisping could get the win in his home country that he’s been missing for the last two years. That being said, he could very well suffer a deflating disappointment. Either way, the growing talent pool of the middleweight division looks to keep us all treading water for a long time to come.

 


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