(Column I wrote for gerweck.net)
Spike TV’s swan song to The Ultimate Fighter has produced one of the most exciting seasons in years. The coach’s battle between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Michael “The Count” Bisping is an evenly matched fight that should produce a lot of action. This will be Mayhem’s first fight since September 25, 2010, when he submitted a past his prime and first ballot hall of famer, Kazushi Sakuraba. This will also be Mayhem’s first fight back in the UFC since he lost a unanimous decision to Georges St. Pierre in 2005. Miller was a dormant member of the Strikeforce roster due to CBS refusing him entry on shows because his antics caused a post-fight brawl with the Diaz Brothers on live network television. On the other hand, Dana White had no reservations about bringing the Bully Beatdown host into the promotion for a second go-around. Cage rust will not be a factor for Mayhem because his cardio is always top-notch. Some think Miller is a goof who can’t be taken seriously, while others know his eccentric personality is him being real and his skills as a fighter are no laughing matter.
The Ultimate Fighter season III winner, Michael Bisping, finds himself coaching his second squad of UFC prospects. He has remained a staple in the middleweight division for quite some time, and now, the Englishmen look to shut up the loud-mouthed Mayhem and be next in line to fight Chael Sonnen. While the champion is out of action due to shoulder surgery, the heavily perceived heir apparent is better than the next best thing. Bisping is riding a three-fight winning streak with his last victory against middleweight journeyman Jorge Rivera. His second-round TKO finish of the Massachusetts native made him no friends after he spits on Rivera immediately after the fight was called to a halt. Yes, he was taunted by Rivera with a plethora of slanderous YouTube videos leading up to the fight. Still, fans thought they were funny and appropriate. The Count is a fighter people love to hate. He is booed more than most and has never been able to embrace the villain role.
Their styles are sure to make for an exciting fight, but the most likely scenario for a finish is if Mayhem can control Bisping in his guard long enough for a submission off his back. However, Bisping will look for the knockout with his technical acumen, but his lack of punching power will make this an impractical task. Miller’s striking is elementary at best, and he needs to take the fight to the ground if he wants to win. Bisping will look to stay off the ground but has been known to jump into someone’s guard to apply a little ground and pound. Miller’s takedowns are seldom clean, and he has to work from the clinch to achieve his objective. Bisping’s experience with high-caliber wrestlers will pay off for him and thus will control the majority of the fight.
The Pick: Michael Bisping by unanimous decision.