UFC 78: Validation Preview - Bisping-Evans
Michael "The Count" Bisping versus Rashad Evans
The smallest and of the least experienced fighters on The Ultimate Fighter 2, Rashad Evans was a serious underdog. Sheer determination and a propensity for rapid learning drove Rashad into the TUF Finale, where he defeated a much larger Brad Imes. Rashad went on to win two more bouts in the UFC by decision.
At that point, his last eight fights had been left in the hands of the judges. Rashad's bandwagon was looking like a Volkswagen until UFC 63, when he KO'd Jason Lambert with punches from the mount. Rashad then kicked off 2007 by nearly kicking off Sean Salmon's head (think: Mark Coleman vs. Pete William v2.0).
The stage was set for a showdown with Tito Ortiz. Tito lost a point for repeatedly grabbing the fence during the high-caliber wrestling contest, and subsequently, the fight was declared a draw, Despite the anti-climactic conclusion, Rashad established himself as a legitimate contender in the division.
At the age of fifteen, Michael Bisping competed in an NHB match, his first fight. Since then, he has captured the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight title and he tore through the TUF 3 gauntlet. Bisping's versatility has served him well, scoring TKO victories over BJJ brown belt Eric Schafer and Elvis Sinosic in the UFC.
At UFC 75, Bisping fought TUF 3 rival Matt Hamill to what would become one of the most controversial decisions in MMA history. Hamill dominated the first round, rocking "The Count" with punches, taking him down at will and outwrestling the Englishman in front of a London crowd. The momentum swing both ways for the rest of the match, with neither man posing any serious danger. Ultimately, Bisping was awarded the split-decision, which he enthusiastically celebrated.
The smart money is on Rashad. Between both men, there is a wealth of talent, but Rashad's wrestling is simply outstanding. You can bank on a fire fight early on, but Rashad will be looking for the takedown. Bisping will struggle and fail as Rashad latches on and slams Bisping to the mat. "The Count"'s jiujitsu is solid enough to fend off any lethal maneuvers from there, but I see Bisping spending the final minutes of the fight on the mat, being controlled. Rashad takes the split-decision.