July 1, 2008

UFC Fighter Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping

As the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s popularity in England continues to rise, the promotion is more frequently returning to its new base across the Atlantic. Less than a month removed from its latest trip to London, the UFC on Tuesday confirmed that British superstar Michael Bisping will face Ultimate Fighter alum Chris Leben in the main event of an October return to the U.K.

UFC 89 “Bisping vs. Leben”
is slated for October 18 at the 13,000-seat National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. It marks the first venture for the promotion into Birmingham.

Bisping and Leben were originally slated to headline UFC 85 in London on June 7. Due to a legal situation regarding a parole violation stemming from a past DUI charge, Leben ended up serving 11 days of a 35-day jail sentence, which effectively made it impossible for him to compete.

Although he had to step down from the main event – which instead featured Thiago Alves’ defeat of former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes – Bisping still competed at UFC 85. In what was his most impressive UFC performance to date, he dominated Canadian Jason Day en route to a first round TKO stoppage.

The win was Bisping’s second consecutive victory since dropping down to the 185-pound middleweight division after losing a split decision to Rashad Evans at 205 pounds.

Leben is also on a two-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Alessio Sakara in March at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio.

Popular British welterweight Dan Hardy, who has risen through the ranks of the Cage Warriors promotion in the U.K., is also rumored to be fighting on the UFC 89 card, although no official word has come from the UFC yet.