Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Michael Bisping isn't concerned about Vitor Belfort's ability as a striker, or even his black belt in jiu-jitsu. It's his history of punching fighters in the back of their head that has "The Count" worried heading into Brazil.
How do you saw wascally wabbit in Portuguese?
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Michael Bisping is gearing up for the final hurdle in his quest to become the division's number one contender, a 185-pound throwdown against Vitor Belfort on Jan. 19, 2013 in Brazil.
And "The Count" is worried.
Not about "The Phenom's" ability as a striker, or even his black belt in jiu-jitsu. It's his history of punching fighters in the back of their head (cough, Akiyama), that has Bisping apprehensive, according to his recent conversation with the gang at MMA Fighting:
"In my opinion, the hardest fight in the 185 [pound] division, other than Anderson Silva, is Vitor Belfort. He's a southpaw. I think that's one of the main things that complicates things because it changes up the striking. He's very good at jiu-jitsu, but that doesn't concern me. I don't think he's going to be looking to take me down and submit me. I think the main thing I've got to watch out for is punches to the back of the head. Got to watch out for those rabbit punches, because he does like to punch people in the back of the head. If I beat Vitor Belfort, I think there's no question that I'm the No. 1 contender. And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. I think I deserve it. If I beat Vitor, I deserve it. If I don't beat him, then I don't deserve to be in a title fight anyway."
Belfort (21-10) took a break from his middleweight duties to accept a short notice fight at UFC 152 against reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. Despite some early drama, in which the Brazilian locked on a ligament-straining armbar, the former division titleholder couldn't seal the deal and eventually tapped to a fourth-round Kimura.
The ensuing loss sent him back to 185 pounds, where he's currently riding a two-fight win streak.
That's one more than Bisping, who rebounded from a close decision loss to Chael Sonnen earlier this year to out-point Brian Stann at last month's "Jones vs. Belfort" event in Toronto. "The Count" has been knocking on the championship door his entire career and a win over Vitor might finally be the reason it opens.
Assuming he doesn't get KTFO in the process.