Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping will finally get a shot at UFC gold 10 years after winning The Ultimate Fighter when he steps into the Octagon against middleweight champion Luke Rockhold on June 4.
The two will meet at UFC 199, just 18 months after the American submitted Bisping in the second round of their headlining fight in Sydney, Australia, with Bisping stepping up on just two weeks’ notice after former champion Chris Weidman was forced to withdraw from the card with a neck problem.
Coming off a three-fight winning streak, including an outstanding victory over mixed-martial arts legend Anderson Silva, Bisping was handed his shot following Weidman’s injury and after news emerged that number-two ranked middleweight Jacare Souza wouldn’t be able to step up due to a knee injury sustained in his recent win over Vitor Belfort.
With options running out for the UFC, the decision was taken to hand the fight to Bisping, rewarding him for a sensational career and a solid couple of years.
Boasting an impressive C.V. compiled over a 10-year period, Bisping has been on the verge of a title shot a number of times throughout his career, and the Englishman will now have the chance to not only get his hands on UFC gold, but also gain revenge on Rockhold after his loss in 2014.
Having bumped heads a few times over the years, Bisping suffered a fairly one-sided loss to the former Strikeforce champion, tapping out early in the second round as a result of a stunning one-handed guillotine choke.
While Rockhold followed up that victory with an equally stunning win over Lyoto Machida to earn himself a title shot, where he stopped Weidman in the fourth round, Bisping bounced back from his loss with three eye-catching wins over Thales Leites, CB Dollaway and most recently Anderson Silva.
Bisping, who would have most likely been an underdog against Rockhold with a full camp, will go into the fight on just two weeks’ notice, and it’s nosurprise to see the Brit starting as the underdog in the latest betting news and odds.
Stranger things have happened, though, and Bisping has proven countless times that it doesn’t always pay to write him off.
The problem for the 37-year- old might not end up being the two- week training camp he is now restricted to, but the fact that Rockhold has looked all but unbeatable ever since his loss to Belfort three years ago.
Since then, the Californian has racked up five wins, all coming against fighters in and around the top 10, culminating in his memorable victory over Chris Weidman at UFC 194.
In one of the UFC’s most stacked divisions, Bisping knows he would have been taking a huge risk in turning down this title shot in order to wait for one that would have given him a full training camp.
While the Englishman will be under no illusions as to just how tough a task is being asked of him, there are few fighters in UFC history who have done more to earn a chance at having that gold belt strapped around his waist.