One of the many storylines going into the fight between Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva was that, despite the pairing being an anticipated matchup, it was happening a few years too late.
But unlike many long-awaited fights, in the end the timing didn’t matter.
Silva was still Silva in London, even at 40 years old – ducking and dipping and taunting. He may have lost a step, but even at 80 percent he’s one of the greatest to ever step inside the Octagon.
All fight week, as Michael Bisping waged his usual mental warfare trying to get into Silva’s head, the pride of Britain seemed to be in on a secret. He was calm and collected. He was poised to finally collect the signature win that’s eluded him throughout his entire career.
Silva left the fight on the table for Bisping to take with his typical on-again, off-again stand up style. Bisping decisively won rounds one, two and four on all three judges’ scorecards to leave no doubt.
Here are the Fight Night London Talking Points:
More from Fight Night London: Watch the fights again on UFC FIGHT PASS | Final results | Post-fight bonus recap | Bisping defeats Silva in five-round thriller | Mousasi, Breese, Pickett take long road to wins | Amirkhani wins; Askham gets impressive KO win in prelims | Octagon interviews: Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva, Gegard Mousasi | Backstage interviews: Tom Breese, Brad Pickett, Makwan Amirkhani, Scott Askham, Arnold Allen, Teemu Packalen, David Teymur
Bisping’s win over Silva a dream come true
Usually the talking points piece following an event includes several big moments from a fight card. But after Fight Night London there really is only one.
Bisping couldn’t hold back tears talking about what it meant to him to beat Silva in front of his hometown fans. It took 25 fights in the UFC, but “The Count” finally has his career-defining win.
And it couldn’t have happened at a better time or in a better place.
“For me this is the stuff that childhood dreams are made of,” Bisping said. “Fighting in your nation’s capital at the O2 Arena – sold out – against Anderson Silva? It doesn’t get any better than that. And the fight was a war. It was a back-and-forth battle and I think the crowd enjoyed it. I enjoyed it and I won. So of course it lived up to my expectations.”
The biggest moment from the fight may have been when Bisping almost lost it. He dropped his mouthpiece with only seconds remaining on the clock in the 3rd Round, and looked to referee Herb Dean to step in and let him put it back in. But Dean ignored Bisping’s plea.
Then while looking at the ref, Bisping ate a flying knee from Silva that folded him to the floor right before the horn sounded to end the round. It was a crazy scene, but the long story short is that Dean didn’t stop the fight to give back Bisping’s mouthpiece nor declare a winner (despite Silva celebrating like he did), and Bisping was able to come out for the fourth.
Despite the damage he incurred, Bisping was determined to fight on.
“I of course wanted to get back in there,” Bisping said. “Whilst I got a breath left in my body I will always try and continue to try and fight. I felt fine and when the round stopped I wasn’t sure what had happened. I was like, ‘No, please don’t tell me that this is over. I’m fine.’ Fortunately it wasn’t the end and I got the job done.”
A lot was said in the lead up to the fight – it’s just part of Bisping’s game. It is the fight game after all. Bisping called Silva a cheater and told him his legacy would never be the same.
But he had to. Bisping was fighting the greatest of all time. He had to rile “The Spider” up.
So when the dust settled, Bisping was quick to acknowledge Silva’s place in the game. The English middleweight even went so far to say he’s idolized Silva ever since he started in mixed martial arts.
“Going into the fight, of course there were things that were said, but I have the utmost respect for Anderson Silva,” Bisping said. “This is the greatest fighter of all time. So for me this was a personal challenge and this was by far the biggest win of my career.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC