Michael Bisping and his championship aspirations are no more.
With a thundering head kick that echoed for miles throughout the city of Sao Paulo, Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort effectively ruined Bisping's short-term career under the UFC banner.
Dana White officially set the stage for "The Count" moments before the night's main event kicked off, tweeting:
This is fight is gonna be VERY interesting!!! Bisping gets a shot at @spideranderson if he wins. Pumped for this fight!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) January 20, 2013
Unfortunately, just like every other time Bisping faced top competition with a chance to stake his claim for a middleweight title shot, he faltered, and this loss can be traced directly to one momentarily lapse of concentration—the head kick that effectively ended the fight.
...But that would be ignorant.
No doubt, Belfort's left high kick was the bout's most significant strike, and it is easy to point to this as "what went wrong" for Bisping.
That would be too easy, though, and it would entirely overlook the fact that Bisping had a shoddy, nearly nonexistent game plan in this fight.
Was his strategy really to jab and leg kick his way to victory?
I understand his thought process here, and he at least circled away from Belfort's power hand for the most part, but this simply was not going to win him the fight.
He was not actively engaging Belfort enough. He jabbed, moved, threw a leg kick and moved, never forcing Belfort to react and chase his movements.
Along with this, he never attempted to force Belfort into a grappling match against the cage, an area he could have worn down and beat up his Brazilian foe.
Put plainly, it is easy to say "the head kick decided the fight," but Bisping penned his own epitaph by refusing to push the pace and force Belfort into a grinding fight.
Bisping had the better conditioning, and he arguably had the better wrestling as well, but he never put the fight in a position where either of these advantages mattered.
He stuck-and-moved, landed little baby punches and then got caught.
With his game plan (or lack thereof), what more could he expect?
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