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Michael Bisping still answering questions about Dan Henderson

For Bisping, a dominant win over fellow striker Wanderlei Silva may finally be enough to close book on loss

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Courtesy of UFC

Michael Bisping looks to finish Denis Kang during their middleweight bout at UFC 105 in Manchester, England on Nov. 14, 2009. Bisping won the fight by TKO in the second round.

If Michael Bisping thought defeating Denis Kang at UFC 105 last November would be enough to erase the infamous knockout he suffered to Dan Henderson four months before at UFC 100, he knows better now.

Even though Bisping was impressive in a second-round win over Kang that won Fight of the Night honors, everybody still remembers the overhand right that dropped him on the biggest card in mixed-martial-arts history.

Everybody.

"I've got to be honest, it pisses me off that people are still going on about that," said Bisping on a recent conference call. "I was looking at Dan Henderson as a fight to get one of the true greats on my win list, but I didn't get that.

"But you learn from your losses and I know that I certainly have come back reinvigorated."

Although nothing Bisping (19-2) has done since July 11 has made the Henderson knockout go away, a high profile win over MMA legend Wanderlei Silva (32-10-1) in Australia later this month may do the trick.

Really, Bisping couldn't ask for a better opportunity than Feb. 20 to finally put the worst loss of his career behind him.

The fight will be very much in the limelight, as it's the co-main event at a UFC 110 event that sold out in just a few hours. Silva will represent a willing standup opponent, unlikely to take the fight to the ground. And of course, Silva is a legend — a former Pride middleweight champion, highly respected by fighters and fans alike, including Bisping.

"Wanderlei has been around for a long time," Bisping said. "I grew up watching his fights in Pride. I'm not sure if we're in different generations, but he's definitely been here a lot longer than I have. It's an honor to be fighting him."

If the UFC middleweight is able to deliver a dominant win over Silva, it may finally be enough to halt the questions on what went wrong in the fight with Henderson, who has since left the UFC.

Because it's so well known that Henderson's biggest weapon is his right hand, Bisping has been asked over and over why he chose to circle toward that weapon instead of away from it, which eventually led to the brutality of the knockout.

According to Bisping, there were two main reasons for the mistake. One, he had spent a previous camp for a fight against Chris Leben training himself to circle to the left. And two, sometimes game plans go out the window when you get rocked.

"It's like (people think) I'm stupid, saying, 'When you're fighting an opponent, you need to circle to their weak side,'" Bisping said. "Dan is known for a big right hand, but sometimes in a fight, a guy is cutting you off and it leaves no option but to go that way.

"Sometimes after you've taken a few shots, you're fighting on instincts. The fight before, I spent my whole camp working on going to my left to stay away from Leben's left hand. The fact of the matter is I got hit by a couple shots."

Although he calls it cliché, Bisping says it's true that every fighter learns from a loss and the experience has helped him fix holes in his game he was unaware existed before.

And while he greatly respects Silva for what he's accomplished in the sport, Bisping says he had no trouble finding English fighters that could mimic Silva's brawling style.

"What you've got to do is bring in similar-style sparring partners, and one thing England isn't short of is brawlers," Bisping said. "I didn't have to look far to find guys that just want to swing their and arms and brawl; my gym is full of them.

"With all respect, (Silva) isn't the most difficult guy to prepare for. He's got very good Muay Thai and he likes to strike. With England's background in boxing, I've got lots of guys to replicate that style."

Bisping won't be the only fighter in the octagon looking for a shot at redemption that night, as Silva looks to prove he's still at his best despite losing five of his last six professional fights.

Silva hasn't fought since a razor-thin decision loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 99 in June but says he's made important strides to coming back a better fighter.

He underwent facial surgery in an effort, he says, to help his respiratory system and also gave some much-needed attention to his family and Las Vegas gym.

"I've used this time to give attention to my gym and family," Silva said. "Sometimes my son wants to play with me and I'm training. It's so hard, trying to be a good father, good husband and good businessman.

"I've given time to my family and gym though and I am ready for a fight again."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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