Bisping Believes He’s Superior to Day in All Aspects

Jun 2, 2008
With the announcement of his UFC 83 win still ringing in his ears as he stood in the Octagon, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva told Michael Bisping (Pictures) there wouldn't be much time for celebration.

"He told me not to party too hard because they may need me to fight in seven weeks," Bisping recalled with a laugh. "I did still party a bit, though. I figured that I'd earned it."

Competing finally at his natural fighting weight of 185 pounds, the Wolfslair representative had picked apart veteran Charles McCarthy (Pictures) with combinations before shattering his forearm with a brutal flurry of knees. After back-to-back struggles at 205 pounds against Matt Hamill (Pictures) and Rashad Evans (Pictures), Bisping, lean and ripped, appeared back to his destructive best in the April bout.

The fight had been spiced up by some pre-fight mudslinging, during which Bisping threatened to retire McCarthy. Little did he know that his words would prove spookily prophetic: The American retired shortly after the fight.

"I said beforehand that I was going to retire him -- a bit of trash talk if you will -- but I didn't think he would actually retire!" Bisping said. "If I was Charles, I wouldn't pack it in yet. He's a good fighter with a decent record. Maybe he should go and regroup and come back a better fighter."

Despite enjoying success at light heavyweight as a Cage Rage champion and an "Ultimate Fighter" winner, it now seems crystal clear that the lighter and slicker Bisping belongs at middleweight.

"I should have done it a long time ago, but I'm a stubborn old bastard," joked Bisping, 15-1, of his move to 185.

As a light heavyweight, he had the luxury of not having to cut weight. Yet he contends that his 6-foot-2 frame fits comfortably into 185 pounds.

"Currently I'm 196 pounds," he told a few weeks before UFC 85, "and by the Monday before the [fight], I'll be at 193. I do it properly. … I don't believe in boiling myself down in saunas. You can lose cardio and explosiveness that way."

Bisping has been in constant training since the beginning of the year. Instead of growing fatigued, the dynamic fighter is relishing his current workload.

"In between fighting and training, I also set up my own clothing label, Encounter UK, which is ticking over nicely," he said. "And the training is going really, really well. … Without wanting to sound too cocky, I feel like it's going to take someone really good to beat me. After coming off the loss to Rashad, albeit a close one, I needed that last performance to put me in the right place mentally. I've also got [former BJJ world champion] Kazeka Muniz cornering me -- a good man to have in the corner."

Bisping has been concerned with overtraining, though. He is working with a conditioning expert to ensure peak performance and has also learned to listen to his body and rest accordingly.

"I used to think that overtraining was an old wife's tale until the Hamill fight, when I found one of my regular sparring partners throwing me around," he said. "I was thinking, ‘Christ, he's got really good all of a sudden!'"

Despite the possibility of wearing down in the gym, Bisping was pleased to discover he would be fighting again so soon.

"I'm a pro fighter, and our careers have short life spans," he said. "I want to fight as regularly as possible in order to keep improving. Before that one in April, it had been six months since the Rashad fight, which is too long."

When Bisping returns Saturday in London to face Jason Day (Pictures) at UFC 85, just seven weeks will have passed since his April win over McCarthy.

Originally he was scheduled to meet Chris Leben (Pictures), who was pulled from the card due to a brief stint behind bars that stemmed from a DUI arrest in 2005. Ever the professional, Bisping was quick to dismiss the notion that the opponent change will affect his performance.

"He's actually the third opponent," Bisping said of Day. "After Leben pulled out, there was talk of Nate Quarry, who was injured. … Truthfully it doesn't make any difference to me. Of course we'll assess a guy's strengths and weaknesses to come up with the right game plan, but whoever it is in the other corner, I'll still be Michael Bisping (Pictures) in there."

Matching Bisping's poison-arrow strikes with Leben's desire for a good brawl and lights-out left cross is practically a promise of fireworks. The British fighter has no bad words for Leben, and he remains hopeful the two sluggers can mix it up down the line.

"Leben's having problems that he needs to take care of," Bisping said. "I feel bad for him. If I was Leben, I'd be devastated at having to drop off a high-profile international UFC fight. Fingers crossed we can get that match together further down the line. It will be a good one for the fans."

On to Day, who, like Bisping, scored an impressive stoppage at UFC 83. The Canadian fighter finished Alan Belcher (Pictures) with strikes in the first round.

A record showing eight stoppages and eight submissions among his 17 victories suggests that Day is not only versatile but also dangerous. Initially Bisping didn't know much about his opponent, but he has been researching him.

"He's clearly not a one-dimensional fighter, though I don't think he's amazing at any one thing," Bisping said. "I'm not saying that I'm amazing at everything, but I'm a pretty good all-rounder too. He seems to have good ground-and-pound. When he gets to top position, he likes to unleash."

It has been reported that Day was eager for a fight with Bisping even before their bout had been talked about, much less announced. The confident Canadian will also stride into London with the additional self-assurance of the Belcher victory under his belt.

So what does Bisping expect come fight time?

"He'll be in good shape. He's got a good record with lots of experience. He has all of those TKOs, and I'll be keeping an eye out for his jiu-jitsu too," Bisping remarked. "With that said, I really don't think that will be a problem for me. As I said before, I have got that side of my game pretty much worked out. To be honest, he seems like a great guy. I have a lot of respect for him stepping up at short notice, and there's no need to trash talk and drag this fight to the gutter.

"I just feel I am better at everything than he is. I'm ready for the challenge. I just hope he's training hard and comes in great shape, so we can put on an exciting fight for the fans and let the best man win on the night."
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