Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

(This post originally appeared on MMAFrenzy.)

 

When people talk about the absolute, greatest fighter of all time, Michael Bisping’s name doesn’t typically enter the discussion. But, where does “The Count” sit on the all time greats list? You could certainly make the case he’s up there.

Now, usually when people talk about the G.O.A.T., names like Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and more recently, Demetrious Johnson get mentioned. After all, of those fighters reigned their respective divisions, or still do, for a prolonged period of time.

In the case of Bisping, yes, his reign as the UFC’s middleweight champ ended not long in. After the British star shocked the MMA world in June, 2016 by taking out Luke Rockhold, Bisping barely got by Dan Henderson in what turned out to be his first and only title defense.

But, if we pull out a little form the G.O.A.T. contenders, and review Bisping’s career through a bit of a different lens, there’s no denying that he is one of the greatest fighters to date.

Bisping remained in the contender mix, pretty much, during the entirety of his UFC run. When you consider he made his way into the UFC, after winning TUF 3 in 2006, that’s a ridiculously long time to compete against the best of the best, and remain in title contention. Further, a lot of people closed the book on Bisping’s championship aspirations years ago, and yet, the rugged fighter went on to secure the middleweight title when he was 37 year’s old.

In addition to Bisping’s wins over Rockhold and Henderson, he also defeated notable fighters like Cung Le, Brian Stann, Chris Leben, Thales Leites and the legendary, Silva. All of his defeats came against former champs or top contenders. Bisping also won 20, yes, 20 UFC bouts, and he’s currently tied with GSP and Donald Cerrone for the most wins ever in the promotion.

But, while reflecting on Bisping’s career, and how much impact he had on the game, you also have to factor in his persona. There’s no question that at times, Bisping was one of the most polarizing fighters in the sport. In terms of the best trash talkers and self promoters MMA has seen, the former champ is right up there with Chael Sonnen and Conor McGregor. Few could pull of the smug act like Bisping, as a means to enrage his opponent’s fans, and drive interest in a bout. Leading up to his fights with Henderson and GSP, depending on who you talked to, Bisping was loathed.

Finally, there’s been a tidal wave of support sent Bisping’s way since he announced his retirement, and that doesn’t typically happen with fighters who aren’t great. “The Count’s” bouts, and the lead up to them, will be sorely missed.