If you’re going to be a fighter in any generation, there are certain things you need to have in order to offset any deficiencies you may suffer from, and ideally the ratio is 2-to-1.
If you don’t have much of a chin, then you need to have a lot of mobility and good defense. Don’t have any real knockout power? Then hopefully you have a damn good chin and the endurance to keep attacking so you can pile up the points.
But usually, you need one of the Holy Trinity: knockout power, a granite chin or blinding speed. If you have one of those three, then you have a foundation upon which to build a respectable fighter, maybe even a champion.
Michael Bisping, sad to say, possesses none of these traits, especially at the level he is at now.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have any shining points, because he does, but to be brutally honest, his success of late has been based upon tenacity, good conditioning and being faithful to the axioms that it’s better to give than receive and that the best defense is a good offense.
None of that is going to matter against Vitor Belfort if he hasn’t let Bisping’s mind games and psychological warfare rattle him.
Belfort is attended by two of the blessed three—blinding speed and KO power—and his chin is sturdy enough to say the third will show up in Brazil against the somewhat “feather-fisted” Michael Bisping.
Of course I don’t think Bisping has light hands at all, but I don’t think he’s going to be knocking Belfort out anytime soon.
Bisping is an accumulation puncher who simply keeps on piling up the points until you wilt, at which point he pours it on for the ref stoppage, and that is a perfectly acceptable way to win a fight.
But against Belfort, he won't be the fastest man in the ring, nor will he be the strongest, the toughest or the most experienced. If they start trading heavy leather equally, Belfort is going to be the one capable of taking more damage and dishing it out.
This does factor into the whole picture based on one simple fact: Bisping gets rocked on a consistent basis—meaning the other guy manages to stagger or stun Bisping at least once in the fight.
Proof of this can be found in Bisping’s fights against Brian Stann, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Wanderlei Silva, Dennis Kang, Dan Henderson and so on.
How Bisping has managed to overcome this problem in most of his fights is by utilizing excellent timing to snatch up some takedowns and score points. If ever there has been a fighter who has learned how to build a career on points and daring, it’s Michael Bisping.
But it is highly unlikely that Bisping will be getting any takedowns on Belfort, who possesses greater reaction time than anyone else he’s ever faced.
That leaves a battle of punches and kicks, and in that kind of situation, the person swinging the longer, heavier blade usually wins.
And that is bad news for Bisping.
Also, by now, most anyone who has enjoyed watching Bisping fight (as I do) has seen a pattern emerge, and if we can see it, odds are that Belfort and his trainers have seen it as well.
When opponents with power attack Bisping aggressively, keep the pressure on and keep firing, Bisping usually becomes a much more hittable target who is not only quicker to cover up instead of circling out of danger, but who can also slip up into uncharacteristically bad habits, such as circling to the right of a man like Dan Henderson.
When allowed to dictate the pace and distance of the fight, Bisping can ride his bike around an opponent all night long, using an unappreciated jab and short, crisp combinations to rack up the points while keeping himself out of danger.
But when the other guy decides he wants to push Bisping off his bike and really throw heavy leather with bad intentions, Bisping is usually in trouble.
Against Vitor Belfort, Bisping should be hoping all his talk has done most of the hard work for him—inside Belfort’s head—because if not, Belfort has the speed, KO power, footwork and takedown defense needed to cut the cage off, box Bisping in along the cage and then ship him out.
But I am pulling for Bisping and not because I dislike Belfort. I just happen to think the sport would be well served by seeing a Brit like Bisping fighting Anderson Silva for the middleweight title, in England.
Sadly, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.