By Thomas Gerbasi
The UK can rest easy tonight. At a packed National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England Saturday, national hero Michael Bisping passed his sternest test in the middleweight division, scoring a unanimous three round decision over Chris Leben in the UFC 89 main event.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Bisping, who is now 3-0 at 185 pounds.
“It was a tough fight,” said Bisping. “That was the whole gameplan, take my time, stick and move, and get a unanimous decision.”
With the crowd roaring, Leben calmly stalked Bisping, landing with a series of kicks to the body and midsection. Bisping took his time getting into the offensive column, eventually scoring with some quick counters as he used all of the Octagon real estate to stay out of harm’s way. Leben wasn’t rattled as he kept trying to push the pace, but as the round progressed, he was starting to eat more and more flush counter shots, leaving his nose bloodied as he went back to the corner.
Bisping continued to keep Leben at bay in the second round, picking and pecking at ‘The Crippler’ and cutting him under the eye as he came in. With under three minutes left, an accidental low kick interrupted the action, but when the fight resumed, the pattern already established remained unchanged, as Leben wasn’t quick enough to avoid Bisping’s counters or to cut off the Manchester resident’s lateral movement. Leben’s desperate measure of dropping his hands and following recklessly after ‘The Count’ did oddly pay dividends in the closing moments of the round though, as he was able to score with a couple of haymakers before the bell rang.
Leben opened the second with a hard left hand, looking to turn the tide, but any momentum was lost when there was a stoppage in the action as Bisping complained of something in his eye. After the brief break, the cat and mouse game continued, and Bisping, unmarked, kept to his disciplined fight plan. With under two minutes left, Leben surprised his foe with a takedown, but when he started to throw ground strikes, it gave Bisping the opening he needed to get back to his feet and get back to the business of keeping Leben at bay with his long-range strikes, which he did until the final bell sounded.
And though it was Bisping’s biggest win yet at 185 pounds, he admits that he’s not ready for the man at the top, Anderson Silva, just yet.
“I don’t think I’m there yet,” said Bisping. “I probably need one or two more solid fights over solid opponents. You’ve got to earn that right. And when I earn that opportunity, I want to be ready.”
With the win, Bisping ups his record to 18-1; Leben drops to 18-5.
Bisping Decisions Leben, Wins Third Straight at 185
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - The UK can rest easy tonight. At a packed National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England Saturday, national hero Michael Bisping passed his sternest test in the middleweight division, scoring a unanimous three round decision over Chris Leben in the UFC 89 main event.