Bisping strengthens title shot case with jab

Chew on this: Brian Stann received a lesson in the boxing department Saturday. Ed Mulholland for ESPN.com

After waiting one round and tasting a hard right hand from Brian Stann that briefly made his legs wobble, Michael Bisping finally unleashed a weapon that could catapult him into a much-coveted middleweight title bout.

In the second round of their fight at UFC 152, Bisping pulled out a right jab that altered the course of the bout.

Bisping entered as the superior standup fighter, though Stann possessed far greater punching power. But Bisping was expected to survive Stann’s physical strength with head and foot movement, and he did that for much of the opening stanza to avoid disaster. Bisping, however, could not hit his takedown attempts smoothly. It was as if Stann easily anticipated each one.

Then the jab came into play. And with that, Bisping was able to get Stann to the ground numerous times.

“More than his takedowns, it was his boxing,” Stann said after being on the short end of a 29-28 across-the-board unanimous decision. “The boxing will set up your takedowns, and that’s what he did a lot deep in the second round.”

To be more specific, it was Bisping’s jab that changed the complexion of the fight. Once the jab got going, Bisping snapped Stann’s head back several times in the final two rounds and got into a rhythm that helped him set up his takedowns. As a result, Stann was forced to become more defense-minded.

A fight that began as a closely contested event had shifted in favor of Bisping. And Bisping attributes the turnaround to his jab, which is among the best in MMA.

“The jab is one of the most underutilized things in MMA,” Bisping told ESPN.com. “It opens the doors to everything. I’m left-handed, so I have a very good jab. I have one of the most powerful jabs.”

By defeating one of the best middleweights on UFC’s roster, Bisping can turn his full attention to securing a 185-pound title shot.

Count Stann among a growing group that believes Bisping deserves to get the next shot at Anderson Silva.

“He’s a great fighter,” Stann said of Bisping. “He’s exactly what I expected; I knew what I was getting into. He’s the top one or two guys in the division, one, two or three -- whoever you want to throw in there. I have him at No. 2 behind Anderson Silva.”

Stann might get an argument or two from supporters of Chris Weidman. But Bisping’s backers can point to the hard, accurate jab used on Sept. 22 in Toronto as proof their guy has the best chance of pulling off the unimaginable -- dethroning Silva.