Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com
Prior to the biggest fight of his life against Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Jan. 19, 2013, Michael Bisping took a few moments to reflect on the UFC 155 performances of fellow Middleweight contenders Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch.
"The Talent" called him a "point-fighting," "disrespectful asshole" who he'd love to fight on short notice and "whoop his butt." Boetsch, meanwhile, mentioned that "The Count" was "on his 2012 agenda" and that even though he was a "good self promoter," he'd beat him up -- and all others -- to establish himself as the true number one 185-pound contender.
I'm sure I missed some trashtallk, especially in the case of Belcher, but it's pretty clear that both mixed martial arts (MMA) contenders had The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2 middleweight winner as a marked man.
After UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2," which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 29, 2012, Bisping could barely contain his enthusiasm. Belfort and Boetsch -- both considered top contenders in the division prior to fight night -- both lost in "Sin City" on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
Belcher dropped a God-awful unanimous decision to Yushin Okami (again), while "The Barbarian" -- who was supposed to take on Chris Weidman -- got stopped by the training partner of "All American" instead, Constantinos Philippou, in the third round after a sustaining some legitimate and accidental damage that left a few lasting marks (see them here).
"I'd like to say I'm looking forward to these two simpletons keeping their pie holes shut about me for a little while," said Bisping in a recent UFC on FX 7 blog for Yahoo!Sports.com. "Those two have been calling me out and talking crap for months, and I would have got some real enjoyment beating them in the Octagon, but two no-marks [Okami and Philippou] took that glory."
At this point, Bisping pretty much left Boetsch alone and shifted all his attention to Belcher, who like Bisping is very outspoken and very confident in his abilities. Typically a crowd pleaser, Belcher simply had no answers for the wrestling and dominant top control of Okami, spending most of their 15-minute fight on his back and unsuccessfully attempting to get back to his feet.
"Belcher lost every minute of every round in a fight so boring I was afraid my brain was going to melt and start to dribble out of my ears," he said. "It was like someone detonated a nuclear bomb of boredom in the arena -- everyone in the seats around me was playing Angry Birds.
Prior to UFC 155, Belcher -- who has been inconsistent in recent years because of various injuries and setbacks, but has continued to win -- told MMAmania.com in an exclusive interview that he was prepared to head into 2013 on a roll and fight often -- "back-to-back" -- to prove that he should be next in line to fight "The Spider."
That's a great strategy; however, winning is most likely more important than a willingness to fight frequently.
"What delusions of grandeur Belcher has," Bisping continued to pile on. "This is a guy who didn't fight for a year after giving himself career-threatening eye-strain by watching too much Internet porn, and he thinks he's god's gift to MMA.... This is a guy who got his arse kicked by two guys I smashed (Yoshihiro Akiyama and Jason Day), but he thinks he cannot only beat me on a couple weeks' training, but also assumed he was getting passed Okami, who is not to be underestimated. Anyway, now we don't have to listen to this guy anymore. Back to the undercard, sunshine!"
With the two losses, as well as a shoulder injury to Weidman, the table is now set a third time for Bisping to claim the number one contender position. UFC President Dana White said the title shot is his to lose, while Silva -- fresh off signing an historic 10-fight contract extension -- has long welcomed a fight with the British superstar ... in London, England, no less.
All he has to do is win when it matters most, which is against Vitor Belfort in the UFC on FX 7 main event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Jan. 19, 2013. Something that Bisping has failed to do in the past against Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen, but an opportunity he vows to "get done" this time around.
And he's even having a little fun with it, too.
"Hit me up on Twitter @bisping, as ever, Hendo gifs are welcome," Bisping said to close out his Yahoo!Sports.com.
Don't have to tell me twice.