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UFC 127: Q&A with Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping

bisping press shot UFC 127: Q&A with Michael The Count BispingLast week I spoke to Michael Bisping shortly before he boarded a flight to Sydney where he will take on Jorge Rivera at UFC 127 next Saturday.

I hadn’t inititally intended to publish any of the interview until closer to fight night but given the nature of Bisping’s comments, I just couldn’t hold back.

Bisping’s remarks have been doing the rounds within the mixed martial arts community ever since, as the grudge between the British middleweight and Rivera continues to intensify.

Below is the full transcript of the conversation that I had with Bisping last Friday.

‘The Count’ talks in-depth about his upcoming opponent, Anderson Silva’s latest ‘mind-blowing’ performance and there’s further reaction to that video.

Let’s start by looking back to the fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120 in London. What were the positives and negatives that you took from that performance heading into camp for this one?

I think there were a lot of positives, and if I’m honest, not too many negatives. The only negative was that he hit me with a big right hand at the start of the fight. But I don’t really look at that in a bad manner. He’s a world class fighter and he threw a punch and he hit me. I had my chin tucked down, my guard up and he hit me on the top of the head, but I took it. You can’t go out into the rain and not get wet, and against world class fighters, most of the time you are going to get hit.

I was able to deal with that, turn the tables and in my opinion, dominate the fight. I think it was a good performance.

It seemed to me that you were committing to your strikes a lot more than in some of your previous outings…

Yeah of course. People like to criticise my punching power, but there’s nothing wrong with my punching power whatsoever. Sometimes I do subconsciously pull back a little bit. I fought a bunch of wrestlers who had me on my back foot so I was thinking about sprawling a lot. You see fighters like Dan Hardy and Paul Daley and some other guys from the UK struggle against wrestlers, so that may have affected my style subconsciously. Also, I got knocked out against Dan Henderson and it took a couple of fights to shake that off. But I’m sitting down on my punches now and there’s nothing wrong with my punching power – I’m certainly capable of knocking people out.

What is your reaction to the video that Rivera has put up on YouTube?

Pathetic. It’s pathetic. I don’t really want to discuss it too much. We’re martial artists, we’re fighters – he should just show a bit of respect and honour. I haven’t got time for it.

It looks like he had a fair amount of help with it. How much of the video do you think was Jorge’s own work?

Obviously he hasn’t written any of that himself because the guy hasn’t got two brain cells to rub together. I doubt he can even read. Looking at him, I don’t imagine he spent too much time in school.

The guy’s 38 years old. You’d think he’d grow up and mature. He’s going on like a childish teenager. I’ll leave him to his stupid games and believe me I’m training to kick his [expletive] ass.

What does this sort of stunt tell you about Jorge’s mentality going into the fight?

If he wants to trash talk me, fine, let’s see how that works out. I’m just focusing on beating him.

I fought on the same card as him 6 years ago for Cage Rage. I would have kicked his [expletive] ass then. He’s an old man, and I’m in my prime. I’ve got better and he’s gone down hill.

He can try and make himself relevant by talking shit and doing stupid videos. I make myself relevant by constantly fighting the best in the world in main events and co-main events for the UFC. I had to Google his previous opponents to find out who they even were.

The guy’s a [expletive] dork and there’s only one person who’s going to be laughing on the night and that’s me.

Are these antics just an attempt to goad you into having a war with him?

He’s trying to play mind games, it has no affect on me. I’m going to go out there and fight the way I always do. He can play mind games but the fact of the matter is; I’m the better fighter. Always have been, always will be.

All the mind games and tricks, they’re not going to work – he’s still going to get beat. It’s all pathetic garbage. He should spend less time making stupid videos and more time in the gym.

From a fighting standpoint, what problems does Rivera pose for you?

Not too much really. He has somewhat got a powerful right hand but I haven’t seen him knock people out with one punch. I’ve seen him damage a few opponents with punches but anyone can do damage with 4oz gloves on.

I’m not overly concerned really. Apart from me making a stupid mistake and him catching me with something flush on the button, I really don’t see what he’s going to do.

I’m too fast for him, I’m too technical, I’m a better wrestler, I’ve got better jiu-jitsu and I’m better looking.

Rivera claims that he out-smarted you in making this fight and says that he exposed a weakness that if you talk trash to Michael Bisping he’ll fight you…

Yeah he’s said that he’s out-smarted me already, but we’ll see who the smart one is when he’s a broken mess on the floor in the middle of the Octagon.

But is he right, are you too easily talked into a fight?

No not at all. The UFC made the match up, I could’ve turned the fight down but I’ve never turned a fight down in my life and I’m certainly not going to start turning down a fight with Jorge Rivera. I’ve fought a lot harder opposition than Jorge Rivera. This is a free pay-day for me. I’m going to be laughing all the way to the bank.

You’ve gone on record saying that you weren’t overly excited when the Rivera fight was presented to you. Without all the trash-talking, would you have struggled to get motivated for this one?

Not at all. I’m always motivated for my fights no matter who the opponent is, I train for them like it’s a world title fight and this fight has been no different.

Whether he is the nicest most respectful guy in the world or – as he is – one of the biggest assholes that I’ve ever faced in the Octagon, doesn’t really matter, the training will be the same.

What are your thoughts on Anderson Silva retaining the title at UFC 126?

I thought Anderson Silva was incredible. The finish was mind-blowing. Everyone thought Vitor Belfort was going to give him a good run for his money. I thought Anderson would win but I thought it was going to be a lot harder than that. It was amazing. I think he proved that he is pound-for-pound the best in the world.

Will you be looking to hire Steven Seagal as a coach now seeing as he’s taking credit for that kick?

Oh definitely! I’ve ordered all of Steven Seagal’s movies and I’ll be studying them in-depth for this upcoming fight!

During the post-UFC 126 press conference, UFC president Dana White indicated that he’s going to push forward and try and make Silva- St. Pierre happen. Were you happy when you found out that news?

Absolutely. The UFC is a business and the biggest fight they can put on right now is Georges St. Pierre against Anderson Silva. Everyone wants to see it, and I know that I personally – as a fan – want to see it. Of course I want my shot at the title but if I’ve got to wait in line then fair enough because I understand why the UFC want to go and do this. Hopefully, if I keep winning I’ll get my title shot when the time is right.

Will you be lobbying for a fight with Yushin Okami if you win in Sydney? He’s at the front of the queue at the moment but it’s likely that he’ll have at least one bout before the title opportunity represents itself again.

I feel sorry for Yushin Okami because he’s the No 1 contender. I’m not sure how that will work, if the UFC want to make that match up then that’s fine. We’ll wait and see. We’ll see how quickly I beat Jorge Rivera first.

Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann have a fight coming up. A long with an Okami match up, I’m sure the winner of that one would appeal to you. Any preference?

I haven’t given it too much thought. Brian Stann is a nice, respectful guy. He’s a good fighter, certainly on the rise. I don’t have anything against him but I’d like to get the rematch with Wanderlei, the outcome would be a lot different (Silva beat Bisping by unanimous decision in Sydney a year ago).

And any idea if your next fight will be in the UK?

None at all. Obviously I love fighting in the UK and I can’t wait to do so again but I’m not sure when that is going to be.

Bisping’s training blog can be found at bisping.tv

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