Michael Gavin Joseph Bisping (born February 28, 1979 in Cyprus) is an English professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter from Lancashire. Holding a professional record of 13 wins and 0 losses, he currently fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and is the former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion, and former Cage Rage light heavyweight champion.
Bisping was born on a British military base in Cyprus in 1979, but moved to Clitheroe, Lancashire, England when he was a child. Taking an early interest in martial arts, Bisping began training in a traditional form of jiu-jitsu known as Yawara Ryu under Paul Lloyd Davies when he was 8 years old. In 1994, at the age of 15, Bisping competed as an amateur in England’s first “no holds barred” competition, a precursor to modern MMA, called Knock Down Sport Budo (KSBO), organized by Davies.
At the age of 18, Bisping decided to abandon his martial arts training in order “to pursue real life”. But less than a year later Bisping began training kickboxing and karate on the advice of Alan Clarking, owner of Black Knights gym, who saw potential in the young fighter. Bisping enjoyed a short, but successful, kickboxing career, winning the North West Area title, and later the Pro British light heavyweight kickboxing title. After again briefly quitting competition in 1998, Bisping returned to kickboxing to take the Pro British light heavyweight title for a second time. Soon after winning his second kickboxing title, Bisping was forced to abandon his full-time training for a “real job”, working as a postman, a demolition worker, and a salesman.
As his days of competition faded away, Bisping grew to miss fighting and training, and in 2003, he tracked down his old coach Paul Lloyd Davies. Davies, who was then running a mixed martial arts gym in Nottingham, encouraged Bisping to visit his gym, and it was there that Bisping first learned about the new sport of mixed martial arts. After one day of sparring, Davies offered to train and manage Bisping as a MMA fighter.
Bisping made his professional mixed martial arts debut at Pride & Glory 2: Battle of the Ages on April 4, 2004, taking a 0:38 armbar victory over Steve Mathews. Just one month later, Bisping scored his first knockout against John Weir at UK MMA Challenge 7: Rage & Fury. In his third MMA match, Bisping became the Cage Rage light heavyweight champion at Cage Rage 7, defeating Mark Epstein by technical knockout. Bisping went on to defend his championship title in a rematch against Epstein at Cage Rage 9 in a knockout victory that solidified Bisping as one of the top light heavyweight fighters in England. It also earned him the moniker “The Great British Hope”, by UFC.com.
At The Ultimate Fight Club UK: Natural Instinct on January 29, 2005, Bisping made his cage kickboxing debut against David Brown (fighter)David Brown in a light heavyweight contest. With Brown badly cut, Bisping picked up the win via medical stoppage in round two.
Bisping, who trains with the Wolfslair MMA Academy, the professional fight team of Cage Warriors, made his debut for the promotion at Ultimate Force on April 30, 2005, defeating Dave Radford to win the vacant Cage Warriors light heavyweight title. Bisping then competed in another light heavyweight cage kickboxing contest, against Cyrille Diabaté at CWFC: Strike Force 1 on May 21, 2005, losing to Diabaté via decision after the end of the first extra round. In his first Cage Warriors title defense, Bisping defeated Miika Mehmet at CWFC: Strike Force 2, on July 16, 2005.
In September 2005, Cage Rage stripped the light heavyweight title from Bisping due to “management issues that Michael currently has”, though Cage Warriors however stated that “Bisping was willing to defend his title but is being punished by Cage Rage due to his Wolfslair and Cage Warriors links”. Towards the end of 2005, Bisping continued to successfully defend the Cage Warriors title against Jakob Lovstad, and Ross Pointon in the CWFC: Strike Force series of events, leading to a record of 10 wins and no losses.
In early 2006 Bisping was featured on the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality television series as a contestant training under Tito Ortiz. He won a preliminary bout against Kristian Rothaermel by TKO, which he followed with a semi-final win against the aforementioned Ross Pointon, by submission after landing a flying knee followed by a series of strikes. In the finals, Bisping defeated Josh Haynes by way of TKO at 4:14 into the second round, making Bisping the second light heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter television series.
Five months after his victory in the TUF 3 finals, Bisping was slated to fight Eric Schafer at The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale. Bisping was forced to withdraw from the contest, possibly due to issues with processing his visa. The fight was re-scheduled and held on December 30 at UFC 66. Bisping defeated Schafer by way of TKO at 4:24 in the first round.
His last fight was a TKO win over Elvis Sinosic at UFC 70 in front of a hometown crowd in Manchester, England on April 21, 2007.
Bisping was a special guest referee at the Cage Warriors events Enter The Wolfslair on March 5, 2005, and CWFC: Strike Force 6 on May 27, 2006.