Michael Bisping is one of MMA’s most unique characters. The Ultimate Fighter winner is known just as much for his loud mouth and acerbic wit as he is for his performances inside the octagon, and in 2016 he had perhaps his most successful year to date, winning three high profile bouts and earning himself a UFC belt.
In February, Bisping – a native of Manchester – welcomed the greatest middleweight of all time, Anderson Silva, just down the road to London where – in front of a crowd of his countrymen – he came away with a memorable unanimous decision in a bout that had all the ups and downs necessary to keep it fresh in the minds of MMA fans across the world for weeks after it took place.
His UFC 199 win over Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title has been hailed as one of the greatest upsets – not only in the history of the UFC – but in the history of the sport as a whole. Bisping came into that fight as a short notice replacement for the injured Chris Weidman and until that point, despite his long career in the promotion, had never propelled himself into a position where he received a title shot.
Luke Rockhold, the champion at the time, had just decimated the former middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman and possessed a very well-rounded skill set, both on the feet and on the mat, and had all the freak athleticism to match it. In fact, he held a decisive win via submission over Bisping just under two years prior to their rematch and for many went into their second bout as a clear favourite.
It seemed as though it was written in the stars for Bisping however, and sure enough he went in there that night and in his first ever attempt at UFC gold, came away with a first round TKO victory and that coveted gold strap around his waist.
His first title defence came against his long-term rival Dan Henderson, who, after a coaching stint on the Ultimate Fighter opposite Bisping, proceeded to knock him out at UFC 100 with possibly the most devastating right hand and ground strike follow up the UFC had ever seen.
A lot was on the line coming into this first title defence for Bisping, and despite Henderson being 45, the power in his right hand was still beyond any doubt.
Sure enough, the H-bomb did cause Bisping some problems, with him being knocked down several times throughout, but in true Bisping spirit he gathered himself and came away with a unanimous decision win.
2016 was a fantastic year for Bisping and with him being England’s most decorated MMA star, one would think that England’s most decorated network would at least acknowledge that, surely?
Today, however, Bisping took to Twitter to snub the invitation sent to him by the BBC to their annual Sports Personality of the Year awards show, with him citing their ignorance of all things MMA as a key reason for his decision.
Thanks 4 the invite #bbcsportspersonalityawards .But until U recognize the hard work myself and my fellow fighters put in, I won't be there!
— michael (@bisping) December 7, 2016
I can’t argue with the 37-year-old on this one, it’s pretty shocking that given the year Bisping has had he hasn’t been included on their list. The BBC – in general – don’t seem to pay as much mind to the world of MMA as they should, but with the sport rapidly gathering momentum in recent years do not be surprised to see it hold a more relevant place among the other, more established sports in the near future.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena