Bisping, Evans looking for validation at UFC 78

Oct 9, 2007 - 12:58 PM Anthony Malakian Special to PA SportsTicker

Both Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans are looking for validation. One of them will get it November 17 at UFC 78.

It's a perfect main event because rarely will you find two fighters with such similar resumes. Both are 28 years old. Both are former winners of the Spike TV reality show "The Ultimate Fighter." Both are undefeated with Bisping's glossy ledger standing at 15-0, while Evans is 15-0-1.

And nothing makes a main event more interesting than a little bit of controversy. They are both undefeated because of dubious decisions in their previous fights.

At UFC 75 in London, Bisping, who is from Liverpool, England, was granted a split decision over Matt Hamill. Even Bisping's own countrymen booed the result.

In his biggest fight to date, Evans eked out a draw against Tito Oritz at UFC 73. Had Ortiz not been docked a point for grabbing the cage in the second round, Evans would've lost his first pro fight.

Now the two undefeated light heavyweights will meet inside the Octagon in the main event of UFC 78: Validation. Bisping told London's The Sun that he is expecting a war.

"Rashad's the toughest opponent of my career and seems to get better and better with each fight," Bisping said. "I want to test myself against the best fighters in the world and I think I've got the tools to beat him in what I am sure will be a war."

The funny thing about the fight is that it almost seemed a natural to pit Bisping immediately back in against Hamill and Evans in with Ortiz. Why have them go the long way to what eventually would seemingly have to happen?

Never-the-less, this is still a very intriguing bout.

Some would argue that Evans is a more polished version of Hamill. He has also been on the big stage and hung tough with a Hall of Fame-caliber fighter in Ortiz.

Bisping, on the other hand, may have been overlooking Hamill. He, along with many other so-called experts, believed that Hamill was nothing more than a glorified wrestler, but did not have the standup or Jiu Jitsu skills of the Brit.

Additionally, instead of fighting with the pressure of pleasing a hometown crowd, he will be performing in front of an American audience at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The one thing that is certain is the winner will put himself in excellent position in the wide-open 205-pound division. Chuck Liddell is contemplating retirement. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua lost in his UFC debut to Forrest Griffin, who lost to Keith Jardine, who beat Liddell but lost to Houston Alexander, etc. etc.

Not to mention there is the addition of Wanderlei Silva, who is returning in December from two losses in Pride. And, oh yes, there is the UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to contend with.

What all this means is that there is no doubt that the winner of Bisping-Evans will get a significant fight in his next outing and a nice payday. Baring, of course, any controversy.

***

Despite UFC president Dana White's continued assurances, a deal with premium-cable provider HBO is not in the cards, at least not anytime in the near future.

In a statement released last week, HBO president Ross Greenburg said the two sides could not come to an agreement.

"After lots of discussion it became apparent that the business model doesn't make sense for either one of us," Greenburg said. "So we agreed to go our separate ways. You never know what the future holds.

We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well."

According to reports, HBO would not give White and the UFC production control over events.

The fact that MMA will not be on HBO, even though Showtime has joined the fray, is a victory for Greenburg. The HBO executive was never a "big fan" of the sport and has been rumored to have been vehemently against a deal with the UFC.

Despite the fact that neither side has said that there is no chance of the two coming together, as long as Greenburg is with HBO and White with the UFC, don't hold your breath waiting for a deal.