Michael Bisping (above right) wants a rematch with Wanderlei Silva.
LONDON -- The healing power of main event billing once again bore fruition for Michael Bisping, as “The Count” salvaged an otherwise disappointing Saturday night for British fans with a polished performance against Japanese standout Yoshihiro Akiyama in the featured attraction of UFC 120 at the O2 Arena.
Of the three hometown fighters poised to cement their standing on the world stage, only the much-maligned Bisping seized the opportunity. It was the TUF 3 winner’s second consecutive unanimous decision win inside the octagon, following a May victory over the durable Dan Miller at UFC 114.
Bisping generally got the better of the frenetic exchanges that dotted the fight and showed improved composure when trading in the pocket. Often criticized for an inability to cope effectively in the face of sustained aggression Bisping this time reveled in close quarters.
“It felt good,” he explained. “I was dishing out the punishment instead of receiving it.”
Bisping didn't have his way the whole time, however, as he had to overcome a dazing combination from Akiyama in the opening minutes.
“It definitely landed,” Bisping admitted at the post-fight press conference. “It was a good shot. He caught me early on, and I did have to recover. It had me seeing double for a while.”
One criticism still rankles with the Wolfslair product, however, and questions regarding the power of his striking, or lack thereof, surfaced after the fight. Bisping rebuked the queries in typical fashion:
“If you’re trying to [insinuate that] I can’t punch, [why don't you] ask Akiyama?”
The win sees Bisping return to relevance in a middleweight division desperate for fresh challengers.
“I feel I’ve grown as a fighter. If I can’t do it now I’m never going to do it,” he asserted.
That’s not to say that the confident Brit has his sights set on champion Anderson Silva just yet. Instead, he has another Silva in his sights.
“I’d like to fight Wanderlei again, definitely,” said Bisping, referring to his disputed loss to the Brazilian earlier this year. “I would even consider coaching 'The Ultimate Fighter' against him.”