Michael Bisping's top five UFC fights

Ben Blackmore January 27, 2012
The UFC has thrown up stacks of important fights over the years, so many that there seems to be a new DVD on the shelf every week. Michael Bisping is one man who has contributed more than most to those UFC annals, so here ESPN.co.uk charts the Brit's five top UFC performances...

Yoshihiro Akiyama could not keep his chin off Bisping's gloves © Getty Images

1. Yoshihiro Akiyama - UFC 120

"I feel like a world champion". They were the words of Michael Bisping ahead of his collision with Yoshihiro Akiyama, a judo specialist of world class calibre who is known as the Japanese David Beckham in his native homeland. Bisping had major questions to answer going into the bout, particularly over his chin. Dan Henderson had knocked the Briton out, Denis Kang and Wanderlei Silva both dropped him, and Akiyama had almost KO'd the granite chin of Chris Leben in his last fight. However, within 20 seconds, those disparagements were laid to rest. Akiyama caught Bisping with a huge right, England's favourite son lost sight in one eye, but he battled on to win the first round. "I was seeing double. I couldn't see out of my eye. I thought s***, this isn't good," revealed Bisping. The rest of the fight certainly was not good for Akiyama, who got caught by endless right hands as Bisping proved himself a top class striker. By the final bell, Akiyama was on his knees, a clear symbol that Bisping's talents are closer to being worthy of UFC gold than ever.

Jorge Rivera had no answer to Bisping's speed © Getty Images

2. Jorge Rivera - UFC 127

Never awaken the beast. Or in other words, never anger Michael Bisping. Jorge Rivera, perhaps sensing that he was the inferior fighter, spent months creating videos in order to antagonise the Briton, hoping it would lure him out of his usual tactical guise. Rivera attacked Bisping's personality, his heritage and - most importantly - his family, so by the time the two men stood inside the same Octagon, Bisping was close to boiling point. Refusing to touch gloves the Briton sought revenge, and he found it - emphatically. First there was controversy as Bisping landed an illegal knee flush to the face of Rivera, who needed time to regain his senses. Then came a setback as El Conquistador dropped Bisping at the start of the second round, but then came payback as Bisping responded, driving right hands repeatedly into Rivera's head. The American, lacking cardio and ideas, accepted the TKO stoppage, while Bisping had the final say both physically and metaphorically in a huge personal grudge match. "His camp talked a lot of s*** and touched a few nerves, so I apologise for losing control," said Bisping, who taunted Rivera's corner. "I respect him as an opponent, but he talks too much s***."

Denis Kang suffered a second-round tornado © UFC

3. Denis Kang - UFC 105

When Michael Bisping entered the Octagon in England's capital city, his career was on the line after suffering a devastating knockout loss - the first knockout of his career - against Dan Henderson. Having spent his entire career getting to within one victory of a title shot, Bisping now faced the prospect of a slide into obscurity should he suffer defeat to next opponent Denis Kang. Disaster struck early too, when Kang dropped the home favourite much as Henderson had done with a big right hand. Bisping had to engage survival mode, nullifying the danger until hearing the sound of the klaxon for round two, at which point he released sheer fury on his opponent. Kang simply could not avoid the takedown as Bisping relentlessly put him on his back, dropping an outpouring of bombs from standing guard to force a stoppage that blew the roof off the MEN Arena. "I noticed from my footage [of Kang] that he breaks mentally if the fight doesn't go his way," said Bisping. "I could see it in his eyes when I hit him. One of those shots broke his will."

Chris Leben was unrecognisable in the post-fight presser © UFC

4. Chris Leben - UFC 89

At the time of UFC 89 in England, Chris Leben was seen as something of an acid test for Bisping. Never before had the Brit faced a genuine knockout artist. Previous opponents Rashad Evans and Matt Hamill had not yet shown the danger in their hands that was to appear in later years, while the likes of Eric Schafer and Jason Day were ground threats - not stand-up bangers. Leben arrived with his left hand loaded, and he swung it at will. Bisping got caught close to the end of round two, but he spent the majority of the fight peppering his foe with deadly accuracy. The final punch-count landed by Bisping was a record at that time, and it rocketed him to within one fight of a title shot.

Elvis Sinosic dropped Bisping but ultimately went the same way as Kang © UFC

5. Elvis Sinosic - UFC 70

Still one of the classic fights in Bisping's career, Elvis Sinosic stood on the cusp of victory on two separate occasions but inevitably succumbed to "The Count's" greater skill and heart. This was only Bisping's third official UFC fight, but it was a night when he cemented his name in the vocabulary of thousands of fight fans. Battling on a card that was headlined by Mirko Cro Cop v Gabriel Gonzaga, Bisping walked home with Fight of the Night honours thanks to a second-round TKO victory. Sinosic was tossed to the canvas and bloodied by Bisping's ground-and-pound, but then the Australian hit back with a knee that dropped the home favourite. A tight kimura followed, but Bisping's exceptional ground work found a reversal that led to the eventual stoppage.
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Ben Blackmore is deputy editor of ESPN.co.uk