With a counter left-handed hook, Michael “The Count” Bisping shook the UFC Universe to its core with a first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion of the world.
Bisping (29-7) was a +500 underdog against Rockhold, making his first-round knockout victory Saturday night the third-biggest upset in a title fight in the UFC since 2008 – not bad for a guy who only got his shot after an injury to Rockhold’s original opponent, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
After shocking the world, it took everything in the outspoken Brit’s body to keep his emotions in check:
“Listen, I’ve got to be humble, even though I want to be an a–h—. I am so happy right now. I started fighting when I came out of my mother’s womb. I really have always been a fighter. It’s gotten me in trouble, but there’s nothing I did better in life than fighting. I am an average guy. This is my dream. Nobody was taking this away from me. Two weeks’ notice. Two days’ notice. Two hours’ notice. Two minutes’ notice. I’ll fight anyone.”
With the knockout, Bisping now has 19 wins inside the Octagon and moves into a tie for first with former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. After the upset, Bisping, originally from the United Kingdom and now living and training in Southern California, brought his family into the Octagon and thanked them and his home country for its support while soaking in the biggest victory of his 12-year career.
Rockhold (15-3), on the other hand, struggled to find words after the loss as the former champion relinquished the belt only six months after taking it from Weidman.
“Congrats to Michael,” Rockhold said after the fight. “He taught me. I didn’t see it happening. I took it for granted. I could have capitalized and fought my fight, rather than play around with him. He’s a tough guy, a warrior. I have to give him respect.”
The knockout loss was Rockhold’s first loss since his UFC debut in May 2013, when he suffered a first-round knockout to Vitor Belfort. Prior to that loss, Rockhold had finished five consecutive fights, the longest active streak of any UFC division.
With a new champion and contenders Weidman and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on the shelf with injuries, the future of the middleweight division is full of question marks. One thing’s for certain – thanks to a beautiful left-hand hook, all roads lead to the new champion Bisping.