As Michael Bisping puts in his final reps for this weekend's (Jan. 19, 2013) showdown against Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7, he can't help but to look ahead to the prize that awaits him should he best "The Phenom" in Sao Paulo, Brazil: A much-desired title shot against Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva later this year.
Before reaching the promised land, Bisping has to first get past another tough obstacle as he takes one of the most powerful-punching mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in any division in Belfort.
Having competed for the UFC 17 times already with no title fight thanks to Dan Henderson's powerful right hand at UFC 100 and Chael Sonnen's wrestling at UFC on Fox 2, Bisping is determined to prove the third time is indeed a charm as he is one win away from his chance at competing for UFC gold.
According to the British brawler, perhaps he wasn't ready before, but, his time is now.
If he somehow happens to come up short against Vitor this weekend, don't expect him to disappear into obscurity because you won't be able to get rid of him that easily, as he recently revealed on an appearance on The MMA Hour:
"No, absolutely not. Listen, I haven't fought for the title yet and I think I'm destined to be world champion one day. No one works as hard as me. I've got the skill set, I've got the tools, and I've got the mental capacity to achieve that. You know, the mental toughens that's required. I got all the ingredients. Maybe in the past I wasn't ready. Now I feel ready. The fact that I've built myself back up, I got myself in the position again, I think it's a testament to my mental toughness and my desire to win and continue. I've been in the UFC for seven years and God forbid this doesn't go my way Saturday night, I'm not going away. I'm not going away that easily. I'll go away, I'll build myself back up and I'll be back in this division again and I will win. But right now, I'm not even thinking about that. I'm very confident. If Vitor beats me Saturday night you will hear no excuses from me. He will beat the best version of me right now and he's one hell of a fighter. But, I truly believe I'm going to do it. It's going to be tough."
Should Bisping top Belfort and avoid his punches to the back of the head, he will join the elite company of the aforementioned Silva and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as the only men to have defeated "The Phenom" since his return to the Octagon.
His title fight against "The Spider," however, will probably have to wait until the end of the year as the Brazilian champion has declared he will take some time off now that his "super fight" against welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre went up in smoke.
How about it Maniacs, is this the last chance for Bisping to earn an opportunity to compete for UFC gold? Or will he always have a fighting chance as long as he's with the promotion?