Michael Bisping was granted his wish to avenge one of the worst nights of his mixed martial arts career against Dan Henderson and was able to make the most of it this past weekend with his unanimous decision victory at UFC 204.
The brash Brit evened the score in his personal rivalry with “Hendo” in what proved to be a thrilling middleweight title clash in Manchester, England. While there were some anxious moments for the defending champion as the result of a pair of Henderson knockdowns, “The Count” was able to avoid the disastrous type of result that he previously experienced back at UFC 100 in Las Vegas. The entertaining affair was both an exciting way for Bisping to kick off his title reign and for Henderson to bring the curtain down on his stellar MMA career.
Bisping is a veteran of 27 Octagon appearances and now stands alone atop the UFC leaderboard in career victories with 20 after his latest triumph. The 37-year-old is on a solid revenge tour as he’s avenged previous losses against Henderson and Luke Rockhold in his last two bouts. After Bisping’s most recent successful effort we take a look at the top five redemption UFC title performances.
Honorable Mention: Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua II
Event: UFC 113
Date: May 8, 2010
Location: Montreal, Canada
Result: Rua def. Machida via KO
In the eyes of many Rua had received a raw deal from the judges in his first light heavyweight title shot against Machida at UFC 104. The former Pride FC great had seemingly done enough to get the nod on the scorecards, however “The Dragon” held onto his belt via a highly-controversial unanimous decision. An immediate rematch was ordered and Rua would leave no doubt this time around.
“Shogun” came out aggressively relying on the leg kick attack that had proven so effective in their first encounter. Machida was able to secure an early takedown but Rua was able to get back to his feet. The challenger did some effective work in the clinch in landing knees to Machida’s thigh in a bid to hamper his mobility. Rua landed a solid right hand and began chasing after the champion only to be taken down again.
When the bout returned to being a stand-up affair Machida was able to land an effective knee to the body in the clinch. However Rua would counter by landing a massive right hand to the side of the head. Machida dropped to the canvas, and Rua would follow-up with a brutal barrage of punches that made the champion go limp. The proceedings were halted at the 3:35 mark of the opening stanza. Rua had become the first to solve the Machida puzzle in violent fashion. “Shogun” was not only able to get his redemption but at the same time captured UFC gold and a Knockout of the Night bonus.
5. Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping II
Event: UFC 199
Date: June 4, 2016
Location: Inglewood, California
Result: Bisping def. Rockhold via KO
Bisping was a huge underdog in taking the short-notice championship assignment against Rockhold after former titlist Chris Weidman was forced off the card due to an injury. “The Count” had been submitted by Rockhold in their initial meeting in Australia back in 2014 and was expected to be a relatively easy mark for the newly minted middleweight champion’s initial defense. Instead the Bisping-Rockhold rematch would prove to be one of the biggest upsets in UFC title history.
Bisping made the most of his unexpected chance at redemption as he made the overconfident champion pay a very heavy price. Rockhold was seemingly just starting to get into a nice offensive rhythm with his impressive leg and body kicks when he got caught in an exchange by a big left hook. Bisping would seize upon that advantage by dropping the champion with another left and unleashing a precise volley of punches on a dazed Rockhold until the fight was stopped at the 3:36 mark.
While Bisping had the reputation of earning finishes in the past because of his volume, this was a shining example that he did actually possess some fight-changing power. The stunning first-round knockout allowed Bisping to get his revenge and finally fulfil his long-time championship dreams. He also earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his handiwork.
4. Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II
Event: UFC 100
Date: July 11, 2009
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Result: Lesnar def. Mir via TKO
While Mir had spoiled Lesnar’s Octagon debut at UFC 81 with a 90-second kneebar submission victory, their highly anticipated heavyweight unification title clash would have a much different outcome. Lesnar was coming off a title-winning effort against Randy Couture while Mir had claimed an interim belt with an impressive knockout of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. There was plenty of animosity heading into this clash and it would still persist even after the fight was over.
Lesnar dominated the opening frame as he took Mir to the ground and busted him up with brutal ground-and-pound strikes. Mir was essentially smothered and controlled by his massive opponent and could mount no offense while being pinned to the canvas. Lesnar played it smart and unlike their first go-round didn’t caught in any perilous situations.
The second stanza saw Mir come out more aggressively and he was able to land a solid elbow and knee in the clinch. However, an attempted flying knee proved his undoing as Lesnar was able to get Mir to the mat. Lesnar would batter his opponent with brutal punches to the face until the contest was finally halted at the 1:48 mark. Even in victory Lesnar wasn’t satisfied as he continued to taunt his bloodied opponent. The crowd expressed their displeasure with the WWE star’s antics but Lesnar soaked up the boos and asked for more. He delivered an epic rant in his post-fight interview to cap off what was one of the most successful pay-per-view events in the organization’s history.
3. Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell II
Event: UFC 52
Date: April 16, 2005
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Result: Liddell def. Couture via KO
Liddell had surprisingly been bested in the striking department by Couture in the first meeting at UFC 43 before being eventually finished by a torrent of punches from full mount in the third round of their interim light heavyweight title clash. The heavy-handed Liddell would flip the script in a big way to get his redemption at UFC 52 in Las Vegas.
Couture was the defending champion heading into the rematch and came out pressing the action. Liddell did plenty of circling and was comfortable in countering “The Natural” in the stand-up game. Just as the action started to pick up in the round, there was a stoppage brought about as the result of Couture being on the receiving end of an accidental eye-poke. The explosive finish would come shortly after the proceedings resumed. Liddell would stun Couture with a left hook, and as the champion wildly pushed forward, the challenger would drop him with a picture-perfect right hand to the jaw. Liddell would follow with ground-and-pound punches until the contest was halted at the 2:06 mark. “The Iceman” claimed light heavyweight gold and was able to avenge his previous setback against Couture in spectacular fashion.
2. Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez II
Event: UFC 155
Date: Dec. 29, 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Result: Velasquez def. dos Santos via unanimous decision
Velasquez had experienced his first professional setback against dos Santos in their initial championship battle at UFC on FOX 1. The heavyweight title bout was bestowed with the honor of headlining the promotion’s first-ever FOX event but lasted a mere 64 seconds. Velasquez saw his title reign prove to be a short-lived one when he was dropped by a dos Santos right hand to the temple and finished by follow-up punches.
The American Kickboxing Academy stalwart would get the chance to make amends for that defeat at UFC 155 and he would emerge victorious in dominant fashion. Velasquez was ultra-aggressive from the start and pushed a frenetic pace against the dangerous Brazilian knockout artist. He’d secure a takedown and would set the tone for the entire fight late in the round when he dropped the champion with a huge right hand. Velasquez swarmed all over “Cigano” and came close to getting a first-round finish of his own this time around. Dos Santos showed tremendous heart in surviving the onslaught but his face was badly swollen and he was never able to get back into the contest.
That trend would continue throughout the one-sided, five-round affair as Velasquez put on an extraordinary display in mixing up his elite wrestling and striking skills. He was relentless in his attack and doled out a ferocious beating to regain his heavyweight belt and get his redemption. The lopsided nature of the contest was clearly reflected in the 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43 scorecards that provided Velasquez with a unanimous decision victory.
1. Matt Serra vs. Georges St-Pierre II
Event: UFC 83
Date: April 19, 2008
Location: Montreal, Canada
Result: St-Pierre def. Serra via TKO
St-Pierre saw his first title stint end in shocking fashion when he was knocked out by Serra in the first round of their welterweight title clash at UFC 69 in Houston. That contest remains to this day one of the biggest upsets in UFC championship history.
The immensely talented Canadian would get the opportunity to redeem himself on his home soil at UFC 83 and would do so with a vengeance. St-Pierre was dominant from the outset as he took Serra to the mat just seconds into their title unification clash. He would showcase his physical strength in keeping his opponent pinned to the canvas while breaking him down with effective ground-and-pound punches and elbows. Serra was finally able to get the fight standing in the final minute of the opening frame but was on the receiving end of a Superman punch. St-Pierre mixed in another takedown of his opponent and cemented a strong round by blasting Serra with knees to the body.
Serra was able to land a right hand early in the second stanza but simply had no answers for St-Pierre’s skills and athleticism. GSP had his throng of supporters roaring at the Bell Centre as he employed precise jabs in the striking department and continued to mix in takedowns. Eventually St-Pierre would secure the stoppage at the 4:45 mark with a brutal barrage of knees to Serra’s body. With the emphatic victory St-Pierre had avenged both of his career losses. He would go on to enjoy a dominant second reign atop the welterweight division by making nine successful defenses before vacating the belt in late 2013.