Eight years into his UFC tenure, The Ultimate Fighter 3 light heavyweight winner Michael Bisping is at a crossroads in his career. Each time he’s been on the cusp of a title shot, the 35-year-old Brit has fallen short.
“The Count” faces former Strikeforce middleweight titleholder Cung Le in the UFC Fight Night 48 main event in Macao on Aug. 23, and is expecting the fight to be the start of a run back to the top.
He’s had two chances to earn an opportunity at UFC gold. After winning TUF 3, Bisping strung together a four-fight winning streak before losing to The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Rashad Evans at UFC 78. Following the loss, Bisping dropped weight classes to the middleweight division and immediately became a contender in the 185-pound weight class.
He entered UFC 100 on a three-fight winning streak and with the promise that if he won he’d face then-champion Anderson Silva next. Instead, Dan Henderson logged one of the greatest highlight reel knockouts in his 17-year career.
“This is a must-win fight for me. I have to prove to the UFC, I have to prove to the fans, and I have to prove to myself that I’m still an elite fighter who can go on, get some wins over contenders, and fight for the UFC title,” said Bisping leading up to the fight that will determine if he’s still relevant in title talks.
Bisping is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Tim Kennedy in April and has no intentions of dropping two fights in a row for the first time in his fighting career.
“I’ve never lost two in a row in my life, and I don’t plan to,” said Bisping. “I’ve been fighting high-level competition for the last six, seven years. But I don’t want to be one of the guys in the top 10, who wins a few and loses a few, I want to be No.1 and I want to fight for the UFC title.”
Having failed twice before when a title fight was within his grasp, the window for the Englishman to fulfill his dream of becoming a UFC champion is quickly closing.
“My back is against the wall in terms of making that happen,” said the British middleweight veteran. “I need to win to prove that I’m not just some fighter with a name who is fighting here and there for paydays. My record over my last six fights is win one, lose one, win one, lose one, and that’s just not good enough for what I want to do in my career.”