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Opening Round: Bisping’s Blunder

Fans of the Chappelle Show undoubtedly remember a recurring segment called, “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong”. The name of the bit provides all the necessary information, featuring a scenario where an individual’s decision to stand up in the face of adversity would result in horrific consequences. While the program only airs in syndication now, if Chappelle’s team were ever to reunite and needed new material they can simply tune into UFC middleweight Michael Bisping this weekend for a real life example of “keeping it real” going wrong.

Bisping will face Chael Sonnen at UFC on FOX 2 on ten days’ notice as a fill-in for Sonnen’s original opponent, Mark Munoz, who went down with an injury last week. Sure, he’ll make an undisclosed bonus for stepping up and a win is a guaranteed crack at the divisional championship, but what’s the Brit’s explanation for taking the last minute match-up?

“If I don’t beat him, I didn’t deserve a title shot against Anderson Silva anyway,” otherwise known as “When keeping it real goes wrong.”

The reality is Bisping already had the belt within his reach had he beaten Demian Maia, the man he spent the last six weeks preparing for prior to the poorly timed switch, and he already has money/fame on par with the UFC’s current top draws. There is little else he needs to achieve in his career other than fighting for, and potentially winning, UFC gold. Yet now, rather than run straight down a well-paved path to cross the finish line and claim his prize he’s changed course to a route lined with hurdles and an alligator pit just to prove something.

Sonnen is obviously a threat to hand any adversary a one-sided decision defeat so long as he isn’t facing a high-level grappler. His success against strikers is well-documented, especially when they lack the ability to consistently stop takedown attempts, and Bisping’s BJJ is good but not at the level making Sonnen likely to get caught in a Triangle Choke or Armbar when things hit the mat. All Sonnen needs to do is take Bisping down one time in each round and he could have all the offense he needs in place to secure a win on the scorecards. Comparably, Bisping’s only real hope is knocking Sonnen out, but unfortunately for him Sonnen’s only TKO losses in 38 total fights were stopped by his corner and a doctor. He has never actually been rendered unconscious and that doesn’t bode well for Bisping.

Bisping absolutely could beat Sonnen. He just won’t on ten days’ notice because of the level of camp necessary to fend off a world-class competitor like the “gangster from West Lynn”. Bisping prepared for a completely different style of grappler than he’ll ultimately engage, let alone the fact he’ll do so with an abbreviated training period as is because of his bout against Jason Miller in December. It will cost him the probable win he would have picked up against Maia and, arguably, the only title-shot he’ll ever see in his career. Bisping turns 33 next month so he only has a few years remaining where he’ll be at the top of his game. He’s fought in the UFC for five years and this is the closest he’s ever been to a belt. He’s tied for the longest winning streak he’s had since he debuted in the Octagon. Still, with all that on the line he still decided to “keep it real” and, mark my words, oh how wrong it will go this Saturday night on FOX.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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