Mixed martial arts in its current form is plagued with injuries, last minute replacements drastically hurt the pockets of Zuffa, LLC last year losing numerous huge money making fights – And it seems that trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
The self-proclaimed UFC middleweight champion Chael Sonnen was preparing for a title-eliminator fight with Kings MMA product Mark Munoz but an injury during one of his final training sessions forced the UFC to bench him for the foreseeable future.
Stepping in to take his place is British poster-boy Michael Bisping – Bisping was already preparing for a fight on this card against the submission magician Demian Maia but couldn’t turn down this opportunity.
“The Count” first graced our television screens as a part of the third season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ displaying a loud-mouthed and arrogant attitude that didn’t make him a lot of fans but it didn’t stop him running through the competition to become the second light-heavyweight winner of the series.
He would remain in the 205-pound division for only 18 months following a controversial split decision loss to future champion Rashad Evans he opted to try his luck elsewhere.
Bisping has been a staple of the UFC’s middleweight division since 2008 pushing the sport’s popularity in his home land to new heights which facing all comers, currently he is on a four-bout win streak including the annihilation on opposing TUF coach Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
But his opponent, Sonnen is on a collision course directed towards the pound-for-pound king of the sport Anderson Silva.
Sonnen had a rocky roller-coaster ride of a career for the most-part, despite having an accomplished career as an amateur wrestler and being an alternate for the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team he was widely viewed as an under-achiever.
When he made his return to the UFC when they folded the WEC middleweights into their mix it seemed like not much had changed when he was tapped by Demian Maia in less than three minutes.
Following that defeat he seemingly hit his stride showing off his skills in the cage as well as his loud-mouthed attitude eventually earning a shot at Anderson Silva – Sonnen dominated the Brazilian for four rounds before being submitted in the final frame and shattering his championship hopes.
Things didn’t get better from there; he would fail the post-fight drug test and have a 14 month hiatus from the octagon before returning to the winner’s circle last October smashing Brian Stann.
Bisping might have opened as a 4-1 underdog but he finds that ridiculous, especially since this fight will start with both men on their feet – Bisping likes to throw around his hands and has proven that he can do damage with them with 14 of his victories coming by way of knockout.
In his last outing against the former host of ‘Bully Beatdown’ he was the one giving the Beatdown showing off some of the best technical boxing displayed by anyone in the octagon, if he is able to keep this fight standing he has a good chance to do so damage to Chael Sonnen.
But don’t get me wrong, Sonnen isn’t a chump on the feet either. Sonnen displays sound, technical boxing with the fundamentals all down pat but what he really does with his strikes is pressure his opponents, getting them off-guard so he can sweep them off the feet and into his world.
Sonnen has been wrestling since his early teens and was a silver medalist at the World University Championships and brought his world-class wrestling to MMA where he has taken just about everyone he’s stepped into the cage with off their feet.
The gangta from the streets of West Lynn, Oregon has the physical strength to bully his opponents around the cage essentially rag-dolling them and smothering them with his assault on the floor.
Bisping however has displayed some of the best takedown defense in the division dealing with quality wrestlers looking to put him on his back including Dan Miller, Jason Miller and Matt Hamill but none of them are as aggressive and relentless as Sonnen.
You have to take into consideration also that Bisping has been preparing for an onslaught of submissions from Maia and hasn’t been preparing with world-class wrestlers like he would have if he had a full three-month training camp to prepare for Sonnen.
Bisping claims in his pre-fight interviews that if Sonnen puts him on his back that he will submit him, much like the divisional champ did in 2010 but this could just be him putting on a brave face heading into the biggest fight of his career.
The reason I question whether he could submit him is due to having seen very little of what the UK’s biggest star can do on the mat because we have seen so little of it – The last time he cranked on a ligament and forced an opponent to quit was in 2005 against fellow Brit Ross Pointon before he made his UFC debut.
This is unquestionably the biggest fight in the career of Bisping, the biggest knock on him amongst keyboard warriors is the fact that he has beaten up a lot of people inside the octagon but very few were top-ten combatants so now it’s time for him to prove his worth.
The timing of this is either the best or the worst for Bisping, if he is to come out of the United Center in Chicago, Illinois this Saturday with his hand raised he will be seen by millions of new eyeballs and have the chance to fight to become the top dog in a soccer stadium in Brazil.
The Sonnen hype-train is in full effect with many believing that he is the uncrowned champion of the division but standing on the tracks is a challenger who isn’t going down without a fight.
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