Michael Bisping is still going strong in the UFC. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
By besting Thales Leites in the UFC Fight Night headliner in Glasgow on Saturday, Michael Bisping earned back-to-back victories in the Octagon for the first time since 2011.
It wasn’t easy. While Bisping’s conditioning, movement and boxing were typically on point, Leites made things interesting by punishing “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner with heavy punches in close quarters. The Brazilian had his best opportunity in round three, when he rocked Bisping with a straight right hand and uppercut near the fence. Bisping survived the assault and ultimately held on to garner a split-verdict from the cageside judges.
“I definitely thought I was in control of the fight. He connected in the third round with a decent shot. He was swinging big, solid punches. For the most part I saw them coming, but he did connect in the third,” Bisping said. “I’ve always been confident in my chin. I’ve been in there with the best punchers in the world. I’ve been clipped a couple of time. I fight in the UFC, and I fight the best guys in the world.”
The Englishman’s roller coaster ride through the Las Vegas-based promotion in recent years is the product of a difficult 185-pound slate. All too often, a win over “The Count” has been key in propelling many a middleweight contender to the top of the division. Bisping, meanwhile, always seems to fall one victory short of the title shot he so desires.
With triumphs over C.B. Dollaway and Leites in his last two outings, Bisping believes he is on the brink once again.
“It’s a very tough time to get that belt. I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “If I can get a top 10 win against another guy later in the year, I’ve think I’ve earned the title shot. I’ve been around here forever. I’ve here that long, fighting the best in the world for so long, it’s about time I got my g-----n f---ing title shot.”
The always marketable Bisping would seem to have no shortage of options for his next fight, but he would especially like to avenge losses to Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson. In a rematch with either man, Bisping would expect a more level playing field than the first time around.
“As a fighter everybody wants to face the guys that have victories over them, especially guys that have victories for unfair reasons,” he said. “They’re all taking testosterone replacement therapy; they’re all taking steroids; they’re using their backside like a dartboard. They’re cheating scumbag motherf-----s. I would love to face them on a fair playing field, test them before the camp, during the camp and on the night. Of course I would love a rematch.”
Bisping famously fell victim to a Henderson H-bomb at UFC 100, a knockout that ranks among the promotion’s most iconic moments. Belfort, meanwhile, blasted “The Count” with a head kick in their January 2013 meeting, part of a string of triumphs that led “The Phenom to a title shot against Chris Weidman. Both Henderson and Belfort were the beneficiaries of testosterone replacement therapy at the time of their victories over Bisping. Now, athletic commissions no longer grant therapeutic use exemptions for TRT, and the UFC has implemented a strict drug testing policy that is overseen by USADA.
“Well obviously Henderson and Belfort are the two I’m definitely after. If you look at Vitor when I fought him, he looked like a cross between a powerlifting champion and the Incredible Hulk,” he said. “When he stepped in against Chris Weidman [at UFC 187], he looked like an out-of-shape middle-aged man, like a dad that went to the gym once a week. It’s certainly two different people. I would love to smash his face in and shut him up once and for all and get revenge. I have no respect for that guy whatsoever. I think he’s a piece of s--t.
“Dan Henderson, he’s another one. God bless him he’s had a great career, but he was on testosterone replacement therapy when we fought,” Bisping continued. “The amount of testosterone that they are legally allowed to have in their system is just ridiculous and there’s a reason why it’s been outlawed. They used to say, ‘I have to have TRT therapy otherwise I couldn’t fight.’ Well now he’s back and they’re still fighting. So either they needed it or they didn’t need it. The fact is they didn’t need it. They were cheating, they were manipulating the system. So yeah, I would love a rematch with the pair of them.”
Even if neither matchup comes to fruition, Bisping’s goal remains the same: to eventually get to the middleweight belt. Despite his ups and downs, the 36-year-old is confident that the dream remains within his grasp.
“I know I can do this. I’ve got to continue to win. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “I’m still hungry. I’m as hungry now as I was when I first signed with the UFC. I’ll speak to Dana and the guys at the UFC and hopefully I’ll get another fight soon. If I win that then hopefully I get what I feel I deserve.”