Michael Bisping walked out of the Octagon on Saturday night in London’s O2 Arena with his second straight dominant decision victory, winning a unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Does that alone propel him into title contention? To put it frankly: no.
But if you add up his body of work at middleweight in the UFC, Bisping is headed down the right road. Since making his middleweight debut with a first-round TKO victory over Charles McCarthy in April of 2008, the “Ultimate Fighter Season 3” light heavyweight winner has amassed a record of 6-2 in the UFC’s 185-pound division.
He reeled off three-straight victories in the division before his first stumble, a knockout loss at the hands of former two-division Pride champion Dan Henderson. He scored an impressive win over Denis Kang before losing a controversial decision to Wanderlei Silva earlier this year.
You put all of that in perspective and Bisping’s body of work at middleweight is highly respectable, easily leaving him knocking on the door of a title shot… and he concurs.
“Everything is coming together in my skill set. And now I’m ready. If I can’t do it now, I’m never gonna do it,” said Bisping after his win over Akiyama at UFC 120.
“I had a good fight against (Dan) Miller. I’m relatively happy tonight. It was a good win. I want to fight a tough guy, whoever it is. I think one more win against a real credible opponent, I think that would get me a title shot, but obviously it’s not up to me is it?”
No, it’s not up to Bisping to decide if or when he gets a title shot, and UFC president Dana White was less than committed on the subject, although he did heap praise on the Brit after his victory.
“Akiyama is a tough guy. I knew that that was gonna be a dog fight. Mike looked good tonight. He took a big shot as soon as that fight started. He was hurt, he got rocked. He kept his composure and fought a great fight,” said White, but was open-ended on Bisping’s future. “We’ll see what happens.”
The middleweight picture has a few moves to play out before anything can be determined anyway. Champion Anderson Silva is on tap to fight Vitor Belfort on Super Bowl weekend in early February. Aside from that, Nate Marquardt is slated to face Yushin Okami at UFC 122 in Germany with the winner expected to fight whoever is champion following Super Bowl weekend.
With the time all that will take to play out, Bisping surely has at least one more fight on the docket before a title shot would even be feasible, maybe two.
There are plenty of opponents out there. Chris Leben has worked his way to the upper echelon of the division, Wanderlei Silva is returning soon, and Demian Maia and Kendall Grove are fighting in December.
Who he is able to fight next and how he does will obviously have a lot to do with how soon Bisping good be granted his wish, but he obviously feels he’s grown into the role of contender and is ready to step in when called upon.