FanSided.com takes a look at the biggest fights from this weekend’s UFC 152, starting with the confident Brit facing off against the quiet Marine – with Anderson Silva waiting in the wings.
It feels like there hasn’t been a proper UFC event for quite some time.
Yes, that’s almost entirely due to UFC 151′s cancellation a few weeks ago. And in the Fox era of the UFC, where it feels like there’s another UFC event every 5 minutes or so, a break like we’ve had the last month is unheard of. Some folks will be glad for the break, complaining of “oversaturation” and “consumer fatigue” and a bunch of other terms usually reserved for stiff network suits sitting around a boardroom somewhere.
Me? I fiend for MMA like a motel crack addict fiends for a hit of rock, or Mitt Romney fiends for even more money. So welcome back, important MMA events! And with two title fights and a (possible) number one contender’s match topping this card, there’s no denying the UFC is back with a bang this weekend.
Here at FanSided we’re going to preview the biggest fights from UFC 152 in the days leading up to the event. But before we get into the two world championship bouts that are topping this card, it seems wise to start with the fight that has fans talking the most.
No, I’m not talking about Jon Jones vs. Dana White, or Jon Jones vs. Hordes of angry fans, or “Fake” Jon Jones vs. “Real” Jon Jones – although all those battles are threatening to steal the spotlight in advance of any actual fighting Saturday night.
No, I’m talking number one contender’s action, as England’s proudest son/resident twit Michael Bisping takes on living G.I. Joe action figure Brian Stann.
According to Dana White, the winner of this bout will be “in the mix” for a shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Take those words with a grain (or a boulder) of salt. White is notoriously flaky when it comes to backing up title shot guarantees. Just ask Jon Fitch how winning a “guaranteed #1 contender’s match” (vs. Thiago Alves at UFC 117) worked out for him.
Still, there’s not a whole lot of other options for Silva at middleweight at the moment, unless Santa Claus brings Chris Weidman some fan recognition for Christmas this year. With all the talk swirling around a potential GSP/Anderson Silva superfight in 2013, even more doubt is cast upon this fight’s status as a contender-producing matchup.
Still, with St. Pierre dousing more water on the Silva/GSP talk than the entire New York City Fire Department, there’s a more than good chance Silva has to look at middleweight for his next fight (after Stephan Bonnar, that is).
There’s an interesting dichotomy to this fight, with just about everyone in the United States claiming the U.S. Marine Stann is going to shut Bisping’s lights off a’la Dan Henderson, and those outside the U.S claiming that Bisping is too well-rounded and experienced for the one-dimensional Stann. That both of these viewpoints have merit is what makes this an interesting fight.
You can hardly drop the name Mike Bisping on an MMA message board without someone bringing up the famous Hendo “H-Bomb” that laid out Bisping in dramatic fashion at UFC 100. Detractors point to this as evidence that Bisping has a weak chin, but in all fairness Dan Henderson has put away just about everyone he’s connected solidly with over the last few years. Being slept by a human cruise missile like Dan is hardly a point of embarrassment.
However, being dropped by late-era Wanderlei Silva and Dennis Kang ARE points of concern for Bisping. Combine that with Stann’s proven KO ability in either hand, and there’s certainly reason for Bisping to be concerned about the KO in this fight. In fact, Bisping himself has all but admitted this in interviews leading up to this fight.
So for Bisping, the key to this fight is to use his versatility and experience to take Stann out of his comfort zone. I see “The Count” on his bicycle the whole fight, using a similar gameplan to the one he used against Chris Leben (another heavy hitter) where he uses footwork, fast jabs, and solid defensive movement to stay out of danger.
Sure, it won’t make for the most entertaining of fights, but who cares? Mike needs to prove he’s “elite-level” in this fight, and showing the poise and intelligence to fight to your opponent’s weaknesses would do just that.
Another interesting wrinkle in this fight is the ground game, even though I see this bout being contested largely on the feet. Despite the stigma that surrounds all British fighters, Bisping actually has very serviceable wrestling. He largely shut down Chael Sonnen, the premier wrestler at 185, while Stann was absolutely ragdolled. Bisping has fight finishing ground and pound, as well as a vastly underrated (in my opinion) game off of his back. Should he find himself in trouble on the feet, he could very well fall back on his ground game.
Brian Stann is as manly a man as they come. He once braved enemy fire to rescue wounded comrades from a burning vehicle. The word “quit” isn’t in the vocabulary of men like that. He’ll be back, and with his All-American background and exciting style, there will always be a home for him in the UFC.
But in this fight, I see Bisping carefully, methodically picking Stann apart en route to a unanimous decision.
PREDICTION: Michael Bisping via. Unanimous decision