Michael Bisping has lost two of his last three fights. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Michael Bisping (23-5, 13-5) vs. Alan Belcher (18-7, 9-5 UFC)
The Matchup: Perhaps one victory away from a title shot, Bisping suffered a brutal technical knockout loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7, as “The Phenom” floored the Englishman with a head kick and finished the contest with follow-up punches just 87 seconds into the second round of their bout. Bisping has rebounded from traumatic setbacks before -- he won five of his next six bouts after his infamous knockout loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100, and he will have to do so again in order to work his way back to middleweight contention.
With four consecutive wins heading into UFC 155, Belcher also had designs on getting a crack at Anderson Silva’s gold, but “The Talent” was smothered by Yushin Okami in a unanimous decision defeat. The Biloxi, Miss., native struggled to control distance against Okami, and when the Japanese fighter was not planting his opponent on the mat, Belcher was giving up position himself with risky submission attempts.
Finding a comfortable range will once again be key for Belcher but for different reasons than it was against Okami. Bisping is a cerebral fighter who uses excellent footwork and movement to control the cage. “The Count” does not possess the type of power to give Belcher pause, but his ability to land punching combinations in volume while moving in and out of danger could prove frustrating.
Belcher is a talented kickboxer, but he has shown a tendency to drift between technical striking and brawling over the course of his career. He will have no success luring Bisping into a slugfest, so he must be patient in exchanges, using kicks to the legs and body judiciously in order to slow his opponent’s movement. If he took note of Belfort’s win over Bisping, Belcher might also look to keep his man off-balance with the occasional high kick.
Belcher is a big 185-pounder and could look to force tie-ups with Bisping in order to land short strikes in tight, but the Brit held his own in the clinch against Chael Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2 and should be able to do the same here. If either fighter is going to shoot for a takedown, it is probably going to be Bisping. He has displayed a knack for scoring timely takedowns as his career has progressed. Belcher is not averse to risk taking on the ground, however -- he wields underrated jiu-jitsu and will often work to create scrambles on the mat. If Bisping finds himself on the bottom, he is excellent at clearing his hips and using the cage to return to his feet.
The Pick: It will take a disciplined, three-round approach for Belcher to get the best of Bisping. “The Talent” will have a few moments, but Bisping’s conditioning and effective boxing carry him to a three-round verdict.
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