Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight between Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping.
“I back. Trust me. I back.”
That was the concise message a smiling Anderson Silva delivered to fans of mixed martial arts one day in the summer of 2013, a week after he’d clowned his way to an unthinkable knockout loss to Chris Weidman, marking the end of a 17-fight win streak. The broken English was endearing back then because everything about “The Spider” sparkled like the star that he was. He might have been no longer the UFC’s middleweight champion at that moment, but his announcement served notice that the defeat was nothing more than a speed bump on the golden road, and he’d soon be rectifying the situation.
Well, it didn’t happen quite like he’d planned. December came, and so did Weidman, hauling the shiny brass-and-leather belt along with him. There were many who examined the rematch and were convinced that Silva would walk out of the octagon that night with the strap the Brazilian had owned for the previous seven years. But the new champ was too much to handle once again, and this time the old champ not only didn’t walk out of the cage with the belt, he didn’t even walk out of the cage.
Silva didn’t fight again for over a year, in fact, healing the sickening leg break he suffered in the second round. And when he did return to the cage, in January 2015 in Las Vegas, he didn’t exactly harken back to his days of heart-thumping striking. He was in full control of Nick Diaz for five rounds, but what was most memorable about the bout was Diaz’s taunting and antics. For Silva, it was not a notable night … until days later, when the Nevada Athletic Commission announced that the longtime champ had tested positive for two anabolic steroids. He was fined and suspended, and his victory was changed to a no decision.
Now Silva is back, again, after another year’s absence, taking on Michael Bisping in the main event of a UFC Fight Night on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
Silva (33-6, 1 NC) is 40 years old now, and he has gone nearly 3 1/2 years without a victory (at least one that stood). When he was in his prime, he was a sublime spectacle, widely considered the greatest MMA fighter in the world, perhaps the best of all time. Now, because of age and inactivity, and with the dark cloud of PED failure casting a shadow of indignity, “The Spider” is a question mark hoping to rediscover the exclamation point he once was.
Bisping (27-7) is a spry 36-year-old by comparison. He’s won two in a row, and seems to be past the injuries that slowed him in recent years. Though he lives and trains in southern California now, “The Count” is a native of Manchester, England, and once was the face of the UFC in Europe. It’s been over five years since he fought in England, but he’s 16-0 on his native soil.
The entire 13-fight card will be shown on the UFC Fight Pass, the promotion’s digital streaming service. The first fight begins at 12:45 a.m. ET, and the main card begins at 4 p.m.
Bisping has been talking about fighting Silva ever since the two were in diapers. Or maybe it just seems that way.
The Brit was a product of the third season of the UFC’s reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. He won the finale in June 2006, and four days later, Silva made his UFC debut. Less than four months after that, “The Spider” was middleweight champion.
Bisping actually started his UFC run as a light heavyweight, but in the spring of 2008, he moved down to 185 pounds and the chase was on. He won three times and was booked against Dan Henderson, with the winner promised a shot at Silva. That night in July 2009 produced one of the most thrilling knockouts in UFC history … and Bisping was on the wrong end of it. Back to the drawing board.
By the beginning of 2012, Bisping was back in a title shot eliminator, after having won four of five. This time he remained conscious till the end, and some have argued that he won the fight, but the judges saw it a different way, and Chael Sonnen had his arm raised.
Since then, Bisping has kept his eye on the prize, even as his career has gone up and down. He’s on an upswing now, having not lost since a 2014 bout with Luke Rockhold, who now holds the belt. And finally, before his countrymen, he has a date with the man he’s been chasing all these years.
Last Five Fights
1/31/15 Nick Diaz NC (UD W overturned)
7/18/15 Thales Leites W SD 5
12/28/13 Chris Weidman L TKO 2
4/25/15 C.B. Dollaway W UD 3
7/6/13 Chris Weidman L KO 2
11/7/14 Luke Rockhold L Sub. 2
10/13/12 Stephan Bonnar W TKO 1
8/23/14 Cung Le W TKO 4
7/7/12 Chael Sonnen W TKO 2
4/16/14 Tim Kennedy L UD 5
April 14, 1975
Feb. 28, 1979
São Paulo, Brazil
Orange County, Calif.
33-6 (1 NC)