Michael Bisping is getting a new opponent for his February main event at UFC Fight Night, and it’s one he’s wanted for awhile. UFC boss Dana White took to Twitter on Christmas Eve to announce that Bisping will now face Anderson Silva in the headline bout for UFC Fight Night London.
Bisping had been scheduled to fight Gegard Mousasi when the card was first announced earlier this month. Mousasi was coming off a loss to Uriah Hall at September’s UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson, and had expressed previous interest in challenging Bisping. But now who he’ll face – or if he’ll even remain on the card – is unknown.
The new Silva-Bisping match-up lends credibility to Silva’s earlier belief that Bisping would be his first opponent upon his own return to the Octagon. Bisping hasn’t fought since July (having to pull out of the UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm card with an elbow injury) and Silva was expected to be serving his drug suspension until April. Yet with UFC Fight Night London having a Feb. 27 date at the O2 Arena, it seems the Brazilian will be coming back a little early.
But as FOX Sports notes, Bisping had always been interested in taking on Silva, if less so following the drug issue. “Anderson is an absolute legend,” the site quotes the middleweight as saying. “Of course, the whole thing is a little bit tainted now because of the positive drug test, so it’s not the burning desire it once was. But that said, it has piqued my interest, shall we say.”
While it’s not uncommon for the UFC to switch out fighters – many combatants have had to pull out of cards due to injuries, including Bisping and Joanne Calderwood from her main event contest against Paige VanZant, where she was replaced by eventual winner Rose Namajunas – it’s much less common to see them do so when both players in a bout are still healthy and ready to go.
Yet when an opportunity like the return of Anderson Silva presents itself, you also can’t blame the business side of the promotion for seizing on a buzzworthy development. With both Bisping and Silva coming off breaks in their fight schedule, fans will be interested to see how both perform and this is certainly an intriguing test for each man.
The only downside now is that the UFC had already scheduled this as a non-televised card – the only way to watch UFC Fight Night London is on the promotion’s Internet streaming service, UFC Fight Pass. Or, of course, you can buy yourself a flight to London as tickets for the evening are already on sale.
Tickets for UFC Fight Night London are now available at AXS.