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09th Oct 2016

Michael Bisping battles back from the brink to thrill Manchester with first title defence

Making it count

Darragh Murphy

How fitting that Michael Bisping was almost out, almost finished, almost out cold in the second round as he was seven years ago.

But unlike in 2009, when ‘The Count’ awoke to the news that he’d be playing a starring role in highlight reels of devastating knockouts for years to come, Bisping was able to keep going tonight.

Who knows how? But he kept going.

The UFC middleweight champion summoned a warrior’s will, came through adversity and refused to be robbed of his consciousness under the H-Bomb for the second time when he crossed paths once more with Dan Henderson.

He wasn’t impervious to the overhand right of one of his bitterest rivals. It caught him on more than one occasion.

Bisping’s first title defence was almost cut short first in round one, when a round he was dominating closed with the champion hitting the deck under the famous weighty right of ‘Hendo’.

Henderson pounced but couldn’t finish the job, in spite of the hard look that referee Yves Lavigne was taking at proceedings.

Bisping continued to come forward in the second and Henderson’s energy looked to have waned considerably but he proved that all he needs is one sight at a jaw as the second H-Bomb of the evening clattered into Bisping’s chin and sent him to the mat but he managed to compose himself and tie the 46-year-old up in his guard and survive yet again.

The comeback was on.

From there on out, Bisping circled exclusively to his right and away from Henderson’s well-worn, leathery power hand.

In front of a raucous Manchester crowd, Bisping poured every strike imaginable on to the fatiguing figure in front of him but every time Henderson’s hips twitched to signal the impending arrival of a right hand, the arena would snatch a collective gasp.

But everything was very much back on track for the Brit who punished Henderson’s already tiring legs with vicious kicks, to both the inside and out.

Henderson’s shot fake, used in the hope that Bisping would drop his hands to defend the takedown, became much more telegraphed and Bisping’s snakelike jab set up shop on the point of the American’s nose.

When it came time for the scorecards to be read, there was no genuine worry in the crowd that anything other than a favourable result would be bellowed.


Bisping’s hand was raised but he’ll be sporting the battle scars for some time after the most fitting bout of his career.

It was fitting not only because ‘The Count’ refused to allow the fight to fall down the same path he had in 2009.

It was fitting because it was the final time we saw Henderson, one of the most game warriors ever to wrap his hands, and he received an absolute war for his farewell fight.

Bisping kept his title, Henderson went out with his head held high and an exhausted Manchester got everything they wanted.

Everybody wins!