As usual, Michael Bisping played the role of agitator quite well in the weeks leading up to his UFC Fight Night London showdown with Anderson Silva.
The outspoken Brit had even more material than usual, considering Silva’s positive steroid test and embarrassing explanation following his UFC 183 bout with Nick Diaz last year. “The Count,” who has faced a number of opponents with spotty drug test records over the course of his career, predictably relished taking the ex-middleweight king to task for his transgressions.
However, after Bisping survived an entertaining and sometimes controversial five rounds with “The Spider” to win a unanimous decision on Saturday, he was effusive in his praise of the Brazilian. Even the flying knee landed by Silva at the end of the third round as Bisping lobbied for a break in the action to retrieve his mouthpiece couldn’t dampen “The Count’s” mood.
“Anytime you get hit in the face and it does this to you, you kind of have to take a second to gather your thoughts,” Bisping said, pointing to his bloody visage. “Listen, things were said between me and Anderson. I worship this guy. This guy is the greatest martial artist of all time. That’s why I’m so emotional right now. This has been a lifelong quest. I know I said things.
“Anderson, the respect I have for you, you cannot measure. You inspired me when I started. I was a young cocky kid, saying things I regret and the whole time I was looking at this guy thinking, ‘Wow, I want to be like that guy.’.…Anderson, thank you.”
Shortly after their headlining bout ended, Bisping and Silva kneeled before one another in the center of the Octagon, a mutual show of respect borne out of 25 minutes of hard combat. By defeating the Brazilian, Bisping became the winningest middleweight fighter in promotion history, surpassing his decorated opponent by one.
“I wanted this fight my entire life. Because of you guys , you gave me the power,” Bisping said, addressing the London audience at the O2 arena. “I’m just a guy from a very normal background, and you guys have been in my corner every time. Thank you so much. This means so much to me.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m f—-ing crying.”
While Bisping has been quite vocal regarding his desire for a title shot following some of his recent victories, he only mentioned that dream in passing on Saturday, instead choosing to bask in the glory of the greatest triumph of his career.
“Listen, I’ve always wanted a shot. I thought I’d do better than this,” Bisping said. “I didn’t think my face would look like this at the end of it, I’d tell you that. I do this for my family but I also do it to represent Great Britain.”