UFC 110 - Wanderlei Silva vs Michael Bisping - Middleweight Bout
"I've never been knocked out in an MMA fight, I've never been knocked out in a kickboxing fight, I've never been knocked out in... any other, uh, type of fight". The words of Michael Bisping way back at UFC 85 when establishing himself as a force at 185lbs.
Since then, Bisping's crushing knockout loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100 has seen him revise that opinion, and possibly change his approach to the way he fights.
Having been in with one of the most decorated MMA fighters around in Henderson, Bisping has had it pointed out to him in no uncertain terms that any lapse in concentration or technique will be cruelly punished at the highest level.
He survived a knock down in his last fight against Denis Kang, showing excellent work on the mat to restrict Kang's attacking opportunities, and went on to win using his impressive ground and pound. Having overcome that challenge, he now faces a debutant in the middleweight division... but not just any debutant.
Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva has dealt out some of the most brutal knockouts seen in MMA and Bisping must keep images such as the prone body of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson lying face down on the ropes out of his mind.
Silva went on a run of 17 fights without defeat in the Pride ring when at his imperious best, cleaning house at 205lbs and his eventual defeat came only at the hands (or rather foot) of the much bigger Mirko Cro Cop.
Silva became famous for his legendary intensity and aggression, the hallmark of the Chute box academy but taken a step further by the Axe Murderer. The big question Silva has to answer is, can his body respond as he wants at 185lbs? He looked significantly drained against Rich Franklin when fighting at a catch weight of 195lbs and his only win since July 2006 was a 36 second knockout of Keith Jardine. When the fight has gone longer, Silva has lost and that is the simple fact that Bisping must keep in mind.
Standing, the advantage must go to the 32-10, with 22 wins via knockout, Silva. Bisping has never boasted one shot knockout power, which the Brazilian has in spades. Silva is likely to look for the early finish, swarming the Brit from the off and looking to capitalise on his strength and accuracy to find Bisping's jaw with a fight ending blow. This makes the TUF9 coach's game plan easy; protect yourself, cover up, and let the fight develop.
If 18 -2 Bisping can keep his chin hidden for the first two to three minutes, he can frustrate Silva and openings should develop. Particularly if stamina shows itself to be an issue for the Curitiba native, Bisping's takedowns and ability on the mat should come into play, and he has landed the majority of his damaging blows in the octagon from his opponents' guard. I give Bisping the advantage here, and the longer the fight goes the more likely it is he can manoeuvre the knockout artist into his position of strength.
It's a real toss up as to how this fight goes. If it ends in the first two minutes, Silva has won, as simple as that. Any longer, particularly into the later rounds and I feel Bisping holds the upper hand, but there is a lot of presumption about Silva's stamina at 185lbs informing this opinion. I still feel the 6/5 available for Michael "The Count" Bisping looks good value and could be seen as a steal should his game plan come off.