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UFC 199: Michael Bisping knocks out Luke Rockhold to win UFC middleweight title

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — After a decade in the UFC, England’s Michael Bisping found himself in his very first title fight on Saturday night at UFC 199.

His opponent, Luke Rockhold, promised Bisping’s “Cinderella story” would instead be his “swan song.”

Oh, how wrong he was.Michael Bisping reacts after defeating Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 at The Forum. (Getty)

With one swift left hook and a snappy stoppage from UFC referee Herb Dean, “The Count” put away Rockhold at 3:36 of the very first round to win the UFC middleweight championship, and the crowd inside the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., erupted in a combination of utter shock and complete amazement.

With the finish, Bisping capped off one of the truly remarkable championship upsets in UFC history.

“I started fighting when I came out my mother, really,” said the 37-year-old veteran. “I have always been a fighter. It's often gotten me into trouble but there is nothing better than I do, fighting.”

Flanked by his children and wife, Bisping was visibly overcome with emotion. Thanking his mother and father, and his home country of England, Bisping continued, “I'm an average guy, more than average. This was my dream, no one was taking it away from me.”

“This is the greatest day of my life, thank you all.”

Rockhold, 31, was left standing on the opposite end of the emotional MMA spectrum, as he tried to piece together just went wrong.

“Congrats to Michael,” a stunned Rockhold said post-fight. “He caught me. I just didn’t see it happening. I took him for granted.”

When asked by UFC announcer Joe Rogan if he had, in fact, taken Bisping lightly, Rockhold did his best to remain respectful to the new champ.

However, like so many others, Rockhold didn’t expect Bisping to offer much in terms of competition.

“A bit [overconfident], yeah,” he said. “I could’ve capitalized and fought my fight instead of playing around with him. He’s a tough guy. He's a warrior. I've got to credit him and give him respect in the cage.”

With the win, Bisping, who made his UFC debut in February 2006 after winning "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 3" reality series, joins the most elite company the sport has to offer. The victory over Rockhold at UFC 199 was his 19th in company history, joining Georges St-Pierre as the winningest fighter in the company's history.

Bisping took the fight on just two weeks' notice after original title challenger Chris Weidman pulled out with an injury. Most gave him little to no shot at dethroning the devastating young champion Rockhold — who prior to this fight had earned five consecutive UFC finishes — yet, not only did he beat Rockhold, he finished him in the first round.

A true MMA “Cinderella story” if there ever was one.

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