Bisping (25-6) showcased his notoriously high pace in what amounted to a standup clinic against a dangerous striker in Le (9-3). He closed Le's right eye with a jab in the second round and eventually finished him with a knee to the chin at 0:57 of the fourth round.
It was a vintage-type performance by Bisping, who did not look good in a one-sided decision loss to Tim Kennedy in April. At 35, Bisping said he's still gunning for his first UFC title shot and called out the surging Luke Rockhold post-fight.
"I took some time off and I had some problems," said Bisping, on his time away after Kennedy fight. "I came back and it didn't go well. [Tonight] is what I'm capable of and, believe me, I'm capable of better. I want to be the world champion. I have the tools.
"There's an idiot called Luke Rockhold who won't stop talking about me. I think he has the hots for me to be honest. Rockhold, here I am. I'm going to beat Rockhold and then go for the title. Make no mistake."
Bisping was on point from the opening bell on Saturday, in a bout that looked more like a kickboxing match than a mixed martial arts contest. Neither middleweight attempted a single takedown, electing to stand and trade away from the fence.
Le had success in the opening round with body kicks, which figured to affect Bisping as the fight progressed. The UFC veteran took the kicks well though, and established his range by the end of the first round.
Momentum swung clearly in Bisping's favor in the second round. Following an early exchange, Le started to blink badly from the right eye. Replays showed a well-placed jab by Bisping land right under Le's eye socket, which caused it to swell up.
By the end of the round, Le was bleeding badly from the nose and a cut over his left eye. A cageside doctor examined his right eye, which was essentially swelled shut.
With a clear sense of urgency, Le went for broke at the start of the third round. He landed a counter right hand that sent Bisping backwards and then a spinning kick to the midsection, which Bisping smiled at. Le landed another counter left later in the round, but Bisping's chin held up well and he continued to come at Le with volume.
Immediate cageside stats counted 115 total strikes landed for Bisping in the four-round fight, compared to 44 for Le.
"I gave it my all," Le said. "Michael was the better man tonight. He hit me with some good shots and closed my eye up. I couldn't see. He mounted a good offense."
Battered, it was a credit to Le's heart he even answered the bell in the fourth. Bisping wasted no time putting him away, catching him with a left hook to the body along the fence and then a knee up the middle that planted him on his back.
Bisping earns his 15th career win in the Octagon, which moves him into a tie for sixth-most all time with Josh Koscheck and Tito Ortiz. The win improves him to 1-1 this year. He has alternated wins and losses in his last seven fights.
Le, who had not fought since November 2012, suffers his first setback since November 2011.
Woodley manhandles Kim
Dong Hyun Kim's effort to become a more entertaining fighter has hit a snag.
A welterweight bout between Kim (19-3-1) and Tyron Woodley ended in just 61 seconds, with Woodley (14-3) collecting a TKO victory in the first round.
Formerly known as a conservative, strategic fighter, Kim has gone rogue in his last three fights -- relentlessly pursuing his opponents with wild combinations. It worked to his favor in two previous wins, but cost him early against Woodley.
The South Korean welterweight walked into a right hand counter from Woodley just seconds into the fight. After a brief clinch on the fence, he came back with a spinning backfist, which Woodley countered with another right to the side of the head.
Kim went down face-first from the shot. After rolling to his back, he tried to pull Woodley into his guard but Woodley stood over him and rained down heavy shots. Referee Leon Roberts didn't hesitate for long, stopping the fight at 1:01 of the first.
"My whole game plan was to stay close and dictate how the fight went," Woodley said. "When I saw him start to spin, I knew I could unload and catch him. It played out perfectly.
"My last fight [against Rory MacDonald] was a small setback, but I remain one of the top welterweights in the world and tonight I proved that. I gave the shoutout to my wife because she has sacrificed so much to allow me to chase my dreams."
Ranked the No. 7 welterweight in the world by ESPN.com headed into the bout, Woodley rebounds from a lackluster decision loss to Rory MacDonald in June. Prior to the loss, he posted back-to-back stoppages over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit.
Woodley accepted the fight on short notice when Kim's original opponent, Hector Lombard, withdrew due to injury.
Kim sees a four-fight win streak snapped in the loss. His most recent wins over Erick Silva and John Hathaway each earned him UFC Fight Night bonuses, as he moved away from his old, grinding-type style.
"He is a tough opponent," Kim said. "When you lose, thoughts tend to leave you and I cant really say whats next."