So many times, last minute injuries or switch-ups can derail even the best UFC cards. Everyone remembers the famous UFC 108: “Catasrof*ck” disaster, where the promotion shuffled through about 50,000 or so main events before settling on Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva. This was back when Rashad was only a year removed from his last title fight, and Thiago’s urine didn’t melt through commission testing cups like acidic Alien blood.
This Saturday’s “UFC on Fox” is the rare example of a last-minute switch-up that actually benefitted the UFC. Now, thanks to the cruel machinations of the fight gods (and the bone chips in Mark Munoz’s arm) we get something of a dream fight: Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping. The ultimate British “bad boy” vs. the gangster from Oregon. The only two guys left at middleweight who Anderson Silva hasn’t completely scratched off his “to-do list”.
Oh, were that this fight had the full two months of build-up, instead of just a couple weeks. The trash talk would have been epic. Instead, we’ll have to settle for “you can’t defend submissions and your balls don’t work!” vs. “you’d be speaking German if not for my forebears!” It’s like either guy went onto the UG, searched for their opponent’s name, and just copied whatever they found there.
Thank heavens Chael Sonnen had the good sense to show up to media events with a fake world title and start calling out everyone with a pulse – otherwise, us fans would have no reason to care about this fight.
From a promotional standpoint, it doesn’t get much better than this fight for the UFC. Sonnen might be the hottest property at middleweight, and having him fight Bisping, who all Yanks seem to hate like tea and taxes, is absolutely ideal. He can spout his ridiculous trash talk, raise hackles, and be as outrageous as he wants – all it will do it get the American faithful even more in his corner some Saturday.
And this is a perfect situation for Bisping as well. For so long, the UFC has tried to find a way to put England’s most popular fighter into a world title fight. A win here would finally make that dream a reality. Plus, a win over someone like Sonnen would add a ton of credibility for Mike’s case for a title shot.
To go by the odds makers, Chael Sonnen should run over Mike Bisping, and this accords with most fans thoughts as well. It’s a simple formula: Sonnen is perhaps the best wrestler at middleweight, and Bisping is British. Case closed.
Except that Bisping has an extremely underrated guard, and Sonnen isn’t exactly immune to getting tapped in the guard. He’s also a better wrestler than most would give him credit for. I’m not saying he’s going to stuff every Sonnen takedown, or that Bisping is going to pull Shinya Aoki-esque submissions off from his guard.
But he has a shot. And if he can answer the challenge of Sonnen’s wrestling, he’ll have as good a shot as anyone at beating Anderson Silva.
Ok, that’s not really true, since Andy won’t be looking to take him down. Rather, he’ll be looking to knock him cold with a move he thought up while he was walking to the cage. And Bisping was once rocked by Charles McCarthy. So there’s that.
By Elton Hobson