Lost in the hype of two title fights on the UFC 152 card is a middleweight collision that may go a long way toward determining the next challenger for Anderson Silva’s 185-pound belt.

Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Bisping will look to put a closely-contested decision loss to Chael Sonnen in his rear-view mirror as he takes on hard-hitting former WEC champion Brian Stann.

Both fighters were in prime position for a run at the belt, but the aforementioned Sonnen spoiled their climb up the ladder. Stann bounced back with a knockout of Alessio Sakara in April, but both fighters have been out of action for a large portion of the year. Bisping was forced out a planned UFC 149 clash with Tim Boetsch due to a knee injury, while Stann withdrew from a fight with Hector Lombard at UFC on Fox 4 due to shoulder issues.

Now that both are healthy, let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills matchup against one another.

Striking: Bisping – 10, Stann – 9

Stann (R) throws a flying knee (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

In all likelihood, this fight will stay on the feet. The Brit Bisping is a much more technical striker. Other than being posterized by Dan Henderson at UFC 100, he has shown off a durable chin. His resume is packed with 14 wins by (T)KO, but Bisping’s finishing ability is more about volume than power. Without question, he will look to stay on the outside and use his footwork and head movement to outpoint Stann.

Standing across the cage from Bisping will be his polar opposite in Stann. The former Marine possesses devastating, one-punch knockout power. The nine (T)KO finishes on his record include noted strikers Chris Leben, Jorge Santiago and the aforementioned Sakara. The bottom line is that no matter who Stann is fighting, if he lands clean, his opponent is likely to wake up asking what happened. If he can bait Bisping into circling into his power hand—much the way Henderson did—the man known as “All American” may score yet another highlight-reel knockout.

Ground Game: Bisping – 10, Stann – 9

Stann (bottom) works on his ground game (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

In all honesty, it would be shocking if this fight ended in a submission. Between the pair’s 42 career fights, they have a total of five wins by tapout. Although Bisping holds four of those victories, none have come since 2005—before he joined the UFC. What tilts this department in his favor is the fact that he has never been submitted. He may not look to implement an offensive submission game, but his experience and resume are enough to give him the edge.

While it has been seven years since Bisping scored a submission win, Stann’s lone triangle choke finish came two years ago in his middleweight debut against Mike Massenzio. The win showed that Stann is evolving as a mixed martial artist, but it’s his defense that is troubling from a technical standpoint. He was defeated in his UFC debut by kimura and against Sonnen last fall, he succumbed to an arm-triangle choke. If he ends up on his back in this fight, there has to be concern for the American.

Wrestling: Bisping – 10, Stann – 9

Bisping (L) delivers a left hand (James Law/Heavy MMA)

This fight is one of the rare instances where a fighter from England gets the nod in the wrestling department over his American foe. The reason? Their performances against Sonnen. Bisping displayed solid takedown defense against the high-level wrestler and was able to scramble back to his feet on multiple occasions. In fact, some felt that Bisping did enough to earn the decision. It’s unlikely that he’ll want to take the fight to the ground, but Stann has shown holes in his takedown defense if Bisping wants to capitalize.

To say that Stann needs to work on his wrestling is an understatement. A lopsided defeat at the hands of former NCAA champ Phil Davis prompted him to drop from light heavyweight and his performance against Sonnen was embarrassing. Luckily for Stann, he knows his flaw and has been working hard in this department with Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico. After watching Sonnen struggle to get Bisping to the mat, don’t expect Stann to, but he may have learned the skills to keep the fight upright, where he wants it.

X-Factor

Stann’s knockout power is the great equalizer against any opponent. Bisping should be thankful this fight is in the middle of a pay-per-view card and not a five-round headliner. Bisping has the advantage from a technical perspective in every area of this fight, but can he avoid getting hit for 15 minutes? If Stann connects, it’s lights out for anyone in the division.

Total: Bisping – 30, Stann – 27

Verdict: Barring a huge mistake from Bisping—like the one he made against Henderson—this is his fight to lose. If Bisping uses his technique and fights smart, Stann will get outpointed easily. Bisping moves into title contention with a unanimous decision win.

Top Photo: Michael Bisping (James Law/Heavy MMA)

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