Every Wednesday, The MMA Corner’s Duncan Price will bring a view of the MMA world from across the pond in England, covering well-known British fighters within the UFC and Strikeforce, and also looking at significant events put on by British promotions within the borders of the United Kingdom.

UFC on Fox 2 – Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen Special

This week we delve deeper into one of the most important UFC fights ever from a British fan’s perspective, as we preview the upcoming contest between Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen. We will look beyond the boundaries of the contest and into the story-lines that surround it.

The Past

The first skirmish between Bisping and Sonnen centres around their participation in season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC’s intention was to have the two men coach opposite each other and then square off at the live finale. However, those plans were scrapped after Sonnen failed to obtain a second’s (corner man) license due to an ongoing suspension for various indiscretions.

Chael Sonnen (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

At the time, Bisping expressed his frustration at the ruling, going so far as to voice his support for Sonnen on Twitter:

Gutted for Chael Sonnen; people make mistakes. He paid his dues and should be allowed to continue with his career. Real shame for the guy.

I did want to fight Sonnen as it would of been awesome and a No. 1 contender match-up, but my own personal wants aside, I do truly feel for the guy.

All went quiet for a few months until discussions began as to who would be next in line to face Anderson Silva for the middleweight title. Bisping beat Jason “Mayhem” Miller at the TUF 14 Finale and had then expected to challenge Sonnen, who had just dominated the highly-rated Brian Stann, for the No. 1 contender slot. The controversial American had other ideas though, as Sonnen tweeted:

Bisping isnt worth the time. Hey @Mark_Munoz, what do you say we give em a show.

It later transpired that the UFC agreed with his assessment and Sonnen vs. Munoz was booked with the winner billed as the next person in line for a shot at Silva’s belt.

There was a reprieve for Bisping though, as Munoz was subsequently forced to withdraw due to injury. “The Count” had been preparing for a tussle with Demian Maia on the same card, so he was ideally placed to fill the vacant slot against Sonnen.

The Present

Since the revised match-up was announced, a war of words has begun between the two men and they are not holding back.

Bisping fired one of the first shots, as he claimed in an interview with Fighters Only that he would submit his rival:

Chael Sonnen can take me down if he likes, because I know I can submit him off my back. I know I can. Thats his big weakness.

I may not have a black belt, but I consider myself a black belt. Ive been rolling with Jake Shields, Dean Lister and a wash of other world champions. Believe me, if Sonnen takes me down he better be prepared to get submitted.

Sonnen responded by comparing Bisping to “Pip,” an awkward British character featured on the animated television comedy South Park, and calling him a “snot-nosed Brit.” Needless to say, this didn’t go down too well with Bisping who, in contrast to his previously non-personal comments towards Sonnen, responded in Chicago Now:

To be honest Chael Sonnen is. . . a failed politician. He also failed at being a champion because he had many times in the past to achieve that and didnt succeed.

Honestly, I would have expected something a bit better from him than just calling me Pip. He could have done a hell of a lot better and frankly Im disappointed.

He failed as a politician and his first insult was also a failure.

Since then, several other insults have been traded back and forth as Bisping first mocked Sonnen’s medical condition (hypogonadism) by saying he’d need more than one testicle to defeat him. Sonnen countered shortly after, claiming that Bisping had never beaten anybody decent.

Whether the two experienced trash-talkers are hyping the fight or whether there is truly a grudge there is difficult to say. One way or another though, you would have to admit that this is a battle not to be missed.

The Details

Bisping and Sonnen meet on the Fox-televised section of UFC on Fox 2, which will be held Jan. 28 at Chicago’s United Center. The bout will feature as the evening’s co-main event.

The Fox broadcast kicks off in the U.S. at 8 p.m. ET, and here in the U.K. the action gets under way on ESPN at 03:00 GMT.

The Future

Unfortunately for fans in the U.K., UFC president Dana White has already stated that it would make sense to hold the next middleweight title fight in Silva’s homeland of Brazil. So even if Bisping wins, we will be denied the opportunity to see a British fighter compete for a world title on home soil for the second successive time.

Michael Bisping (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

The future for the victor, as we discussed earlier, is a chance to face the current middleweight champion Silva at date to be determined. For the record, I don’t believe that either Bisping or Sonnen will go on to defeat Silva, but stranger things have happened.

If Sonnen were to lose, then it would make sense to match him up with his previous opponent in Munoz, depending on the time scales involved. If Munoz was unavailable, then a bout with Rousimar Palhares or Chris Weidman might hold some merit. Even with a loss to Bisping, it is more than possible that a victory over a fellow top-level contender at a later date could propel Sonnen to another title shot, especially given how close he pushed Silva in their original meeting.

If Bisping were to be defeated, then the situation would be a little bit complicated. It would be hard for the UFC to penalise him, as he has stepped up to face Sonnen on short notice. That would lead me to believe that he would fight another title contender in his next appearance. It’s possible he could end up challenging his own previous opponent Maia, but other interesting match-ups include Vitor Belfort or Yushin Okami. Who he does end up facing and how he performs will likely shape the remainder of his career.

Top Photo: Michael Bisping (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

This piece was authored by Duncan Price. Follow him on Twitter, @DuncMMA