Clitheroe’s Bisping to return home!

Vitor Belfort, from Brazil, right, fights Michael Bisping, from Britain  during their  middleweight mixed martial arts bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Vitor Belfort, from Brazil, right, fights Michael Bisping, from Britain during their middleweight mixed martial arts bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Clitheroe’s Michael Bisping is coming home as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to England.

“The Count” will take on Mark Munoz in the Middleweight main event at Manchester Arena on Saturday, October 26th, in a bid to throw himself back in contention for a title shot.

The recent shape of the UFC’s hierarchical ladder had seen Anderson Silva dominantly perched at the top while competitors consistently lost their footing on their ascent to the summit.

But the 38-year-old Brazilian’s sensational loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in Las Vegas last month has left the division in limbo.

Bisping’s title hopes had been kicked in to oblivion with defeats to Chael Sonnen and former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort at the turn of the year. But the 34-year-old returned to winning form against Alan Belcher at UFC 159 in New Jersey in April where he was awarded a unanimous technical decision.

Meanwhile, Munoz’s journey has been similarly tumultuous with his career thrown in to disarray as he was decimated by Weidman last summer in San Jose, California. After a 12 month break he bounced back with an overpowering unanimous decision triumph over Tim Boetsch on the same card that Silva relinquished the championship.

Now the opportunity has arisen for either Bisping or Munoz to thrust themselves back in to contention as potential title challengers to the winner of December’s rematch between Silva and Weidman.

“I think this fight has been in the cards for a long time,” Bisping told FOX Sports, just after the bout was announced. “It’s a logical matchup. We’ve been in the division for a long time. We’re both top 10, we both want our title shot. He’s going to bring it, I’m going to bring it, but make no mistake, I’m going back to Manchester and I’m going to knock Mark Munoz out.”

When I look at him, his striking hasn’t really developed over the years,” Bisping added. “He just throws big, wild punches. He’s not very technical. He’s a good wrestler, he has good ground and pound, but I think with Munoz, it’s just stopping the takedown. Don’t get me wrong, he’s powerful and if they connect, I’m sure they’ll do damage but they’re not very skillful. He’s a great athlete and a tough guy, but one-dimensional.”

The event is back in Bisping’s back yard, four years after his last appearance. On that occasion he stopped Denis Kang on strikes and he’ll be looking for a similar outcome in front of his adoring fan base. He’s back on the ladder and he won’t want to let this chance slip.