Home country fighter Michael Bisping did not disappoint his fans in Birmingham, England on Saturday night as he pulled out a hard fought unanimous decision win over Chris Leben at UFC 89 in front of 9,515 fans crowded into the National Indoor Arena.
Early in the fight, Bisping showed his gameplan and discipline by using an effective counter striking game to work against an aggressive Chris Leben attack.
The British fighter used good combinations to land solid shots to Leben's chin, as the American kept moving forward throughout the opening session, only to be met by the quicker and more accurate fighter in Bisping.
"People talk about it, if you're backing off and using counter footwork, they say you're running away," Bisping commented about his strategy. "That's not the case at all. I'm countering, I'm landing strikes, and that was the plan."
The second round saw Leben stick to a similar attack, stepping forward over and over again, but Bisping stayed patient feeding his opponent a steady diet of short jabs and body kicks which landed with more effectiveness throughout. Late in the round, Leben seemed to get frustrated with Bisping's gameplan almost inviting him to attack, but the former "Ultimate Fighter" winner didn't take the bait, sticking to his counter striking strategy.
As the third round started, based on damage alone, it looked as if Leben was fighting an uphill battle, but he stuck in the fight coming after Bisping with everything he had left in the gas tank.
The only takedown happened in the third session as Leben shot in and took Bisping down, but nothing offensive happened while on the ground and quickly the two fighters were back exchanging on the feet.
Bisping did a great job in the third round of once again staying out of any kind of slugfest against Leben, landing jabs, short hooks and body kicks along the way.
After it was all said and done, Bisping kept his record perfect while fighting as a middleweight picking up a unanimous decision win over Chris Leben.
"It was a tough fight, Chris is tough as hell," Bisping said. "I knew that coming into the fight. I knew he could take a solid punch. The fight went down as I thought it would be, that was the whole gameplan, take my time, stick and move, and get the unanimous decision."
Following the fight, the attention immediately shifted to Bisping's standing in the 185-pound weight class and how far away he felt he was from a shot at Anderson Silva and the middleweight title.
"I don't think I'm there yet, I really don't," Bisping said about his title prospects. "I probably need one or two more solid fights over solid opponents. You've got to earn that right and when I get the opportunity, when I earn the opportunity, I want to be ready. There's only one place to go when you reach the top, and that's back down."
Leben was also very gracious in defeat congratulating Bisping and talking to the crowd about the exciting fight they were able to witness.
"I just wanted to put on a great show for you guys," Leben shouted. "That fight that you guys just watched... that was fun."
The UFC also announced after the fight that the crowd in attendance brought in a $ 1.2 million gate.