Going into the rematch against Luke Rockhold, not many people gave Michael Bisping a better chance of surviving than a snowball’s chance in hell. Oddsmakers around the world essentially gave Bisping less than a 15% chance of winning the championship, an opportunity he was given on short notice. Maybe Luke Rockhold made the same mistake as most of the betting public in vastly overlooking Bisping? This article is about giving credit where credit is due. Bisping ultimately paid his dues and now has a championship belt to show for it. The 37-year-old burst onto the scene after winning season three of The Ultimate Fighter, making it three consecutive TUF seasons that spawned an eventual UFC champion, earning his place in the MMA history books like Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin before him. No one can take that away from him. Once you win a world championship, you’re a champion forever. In his 10 years with the UFC organization, Bisping had established himself as a legitimate contender with little to show for it. Let’s face it, like many other fans out there, Bisping rubs me the wrong way. It’s hard imagining anyone outside the United Kingdom taking a liking to his brash persona. However I found myself reluctantly cheering for him in his more recent fights including the latest Rockhold fight. As a handicapper, immediately as the fight was announced I honestly thought his chances of winning didn’t reflect the odds at all. He was written off by almost everyone except himself. Stories were written about how his own youngest son thought Rockhold would win. It was as if he had no chance of winning at all, as if history was ultimately going to repeat itself it was a forgone conclusion that Bisping would be devastated once again. In light of that, Bisping defied the odds by just not winning but by winning by devastating knockout. In doing so he never stopped believing in himself despite the odds being stacked against him. It’s been some time since the shocking upset has taken place. Despite the reality of him winning decisively, some people still can’t believe he is champion, including Rockhold himself. It still hasn’t set in for many MMA fans. So many still ask themselves: How did Bisping do it? With hindsight being 20/20, it’s much clearer now as to how we all missed the writing on the wall. After watching the fight, it’s hard to declare his win as the result of a lucky punch. The silver lining being that a proving ground was created that Bisping could thrive in. It ultimately was Bisping’s time to shine under the brightest lights and he simply took advantage of the opportunity when it finally presented itself. Crediting Bisping’s performance that night wasn’t the crux of his championship. The entire build-up to the fight was relatively tame as much short notice title fights are. However, the moment in time was just right. Coming off a win that seen him beat the GOAT in Anderson Silva, Bisping still didn’t get the credit he deserved for winning that fight either. It was overshadowed by a brief moment in which many declared the fight should have been stopped. Deep down, Bisping knew his accomplishment was not watered down and it was simply a sign of things to come. This was supposedly his career-defining performance against Anderson Silva earlier this year in London, England. Up until this upset, Bisping could be arguably best remembered for getting knocked out by Dan Henderson at UFC 100. The same Dan Henderson that was on the UFC 199 card and shadowed Bisping during fight week as a haunting memory. Or maybe it was a friendly reminder to as what could go wrong by making just one mistake? It can be career changing. Until most recently it could be said that Bisping never really had gotten over the loss. As prior to the Anderson Silva win it was arguably his career defining moment and not a very fond one. Just 99 scheduled UFC PPV events later it was something that was finally put in his past. However there remains great interest at the possibility of Bisping vs Hendo II, which arguably would be by far the more lucrative financial option compared to Jacare Souza, Luke Rockhold III or Chris Weidman. With Jacare literally champing at the bit and Dan Henderson pondering retirement it’s highly unlikely, although it’s still potentially rumored. However it’s something that motivated Bisping, who said: “everybody knows about UFC 100 and Dan Henderson still has that image of him floating above my head whilst knocked out as his logo.” Coupled with Bisping’s biggest career-defining win and loss, he realized he was facing the biggest challenge of his career on short notice with his window of opportunity closing fast. There was no time to reminisce about his first match-up against Rockhold, a fight he was competitive in for the first round before being caught by a kick and submitted. The possibility of winning the title allowed him to remain upbeat and confident about his chances this time around. Bisping essentially had nothing to lose and everything to gain while the freshly-minted champion Rockhold’s arrogance was at an all time high with an devastating win over Bisping already on his resume. It embodied his analysis of his chances of winning as close as it comes to being a sure thing. After losing, Rockhold immediately declared Bisping’s win as ‘Lucky’. As even in defeat Rockhold has proven he can’t really fathom losing. The Vitor loss haunted him as a fight he should have won if the playing field had been equal. The same could said about Bisping’s entire career. It was a pill that Rockhold really never swallowed. It’s something that Bisping had learned to live with. Bisping living in the ‘Now’ USADA era. Rockhold as the champion it seemed he was strutting around as the complete fighter who couldn’t be beat. Rockholds biggest mistake was falling into this trap. Bisping may not have had a championship title fight to his name. But essentially going into the fight he’s been there and done that. Bisping has fought on short notice and has fought Rockhold before. Both past experiences resulted in losses. The only thing essentially new to him this time around was the size of the payoff for winning. Becoming a champion would cement his legacy as the greatest MMA fighter to derive from the UK and it’s first UFC champion, ultimately achieving the same levels of national fame as that of a James Bond actor. Upon the completion of TUF 3, a star was born. After achieving world championship status; a legend was realized on his own terms. So let’s stop trying to tarnish his legacy by becoming non-believers. Let’s embrace him as we have any other deserving champion in the past that’s defied the odds.
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