Make no mistake, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping considers himself an Anderson Silva fan.
Certainly, Bisping had his own rivalry with Silva last year when he defeated the Brazilian in a five-round decision just before taking the title from Luke Rockhold a few months later. Since that time, Bisping and Silva have traded more than a few barbs in interviews and over social media, but ultimately the veteran British middleweight still has a ton of respect and admiration for arguably the greatest UFC champion in history.
That being said, Bisping can’t help but criticize Silva for his performance at UFC 208 where he won a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson in the co-main event.
“Anderson Silva versus Derek Brunson, I’m saying wow this could be a dangerous fight for Anderson Silva simply because of the wrestling capabilities of Derek Brunson,” Bisping said on his Sirius XM show this week. “That wasn’t a factor. Yes, Brunson got him down a couple of times but generally, Anderson stopped all of his takedowns. In fact, Anderson’s takedown defense looked stellar, it looked very, very good. Technically, he was doing everything perfect. As I say, Brunson did get him down a couple of times towards the end but all in all, he showed very good takedown defense.
“But what Anderson was doing was just kind of stalking him down and not doing anything. He was kind of disrespecting everybody there, disrespecting his opponent.”
Bisping felt like Silva was doing a lot of posturing but failed to actually mount much offense over three rounds with Brunson.
There were two separate occasions where Silva grabbed onto his signature Muay Thai clinch with his hands wrapped around the back of his opponent’s head — a move he has used to knockout former champions like Rich Franklin — but this time he failed to do much of anything.
In fact, Bisping believes Silva’s dedication to grabbing for that clinch probably hurt him the most during the fight as Brunson unloaded with a barrage of punches each time the former middleweight champion locked onto the hold.
“At times, he grabbed the Thai clinch on Derek Brunson, had the Thai clinch but didn’t do anything. Didn’t throw an elbow, certainly didn’t throw a knee, and he allowed Brunson to just tee off with like 10, 15 punch combinations to Anderson Silva while Anderson just held him. It’s just bizarre,” Bisping said.
“I’m watching this thing thinking Anderson’s going to get knocked out because he’s holding on to this stupid, dumb Thai clinch. The couple of times when Anderson actually threw something, Brunson turned around and literally ran away from him. You could see that he was a little intimidated. He was bewildered and he didn’t quite know what to do. All in all, you could see Anderson was the better fighter but he just didn’t pull the trigger. He didn’t pull the trigger at all. People were booing in the audience, people were annoyed, people were pissed off. They paid to watch the fantastic Anderson Silva and he just wasn’t delivering.”
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Bisping insists that while he’s critical of Silva’s performance the last thing he’s trying to do is insult a fighter he holds in high regard when he didn’t have the best night of his life at UFC 208.
In Silva’s defense, he accepted the fight in relatively short notice with about three weeks to go until the event and this came one bout after he accepted a matchup with light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on two days notice at UFC 200.
Still, Bisping can’t admonish Silva for putting on a less than spectacular performance and walking away with a victory that he probably didn’t deserve.
“Now I’m not trying to kick a man while he’s down, I’m really not, because I bought the pay-per-view to watch Anderson Silva,” Bisping said. “Regardless of what’s happened between the two of us, I’m a fan of Anderson Silva and he still always brings that excitement and even still right up until the final bell of a 15-minute fight you still thought ‘hold on is he going to pull something amazing out of the bag?’ but he didn’t.
“What he did was he allowed Brunson to out work him so when he went to decision, everybody, and we had a few people over, my manager and some of his staff came over and we had some friends there, there was about 20 people in the house and everybody thought Derek Brunson was going to get the decision and of course it went to Anderson Silva, which was shocking. I guess maybe you could see an argument for Anderson winning rounds one and two but it was just a bizarre performance.”
Silva’s victory put him back in the win column for the first time since 2012, which sounds unbelievable considering his incredible streak in the UFC at one point that included 10 consecutive title defenses, which still stands as an all time record.
Bisping just can’t understand what Silva was doing on Saturday night but he knows for certain that the Brazilian legend isn’t helping his legacy by putting on a performance like he did at UFC 208.
“He’s tarnishing his legacy,” Bisping said. “Let’s put it like that.”