In just about 24 hours, No. 6-ranked middleweight contender Michael Bisping will cut the chitter chatter and throw hands with former 185-pound ruler Anderson Silva in the main event of the Fight Pass-exclusive UFC Fight Night 84 card, which takes place inside of O2 Arena in London, England this Saturday night (Feb. 27, 2016).
"The Count" has held court in the Top 10 of the division for several years, but as the story goes, he never earned a title shot against then champion and destructive force, Silva. But after the Brit thought long and hard about challenging a previous abuser of steroids, he simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to face a legend.
Bisping marches into his tussle with "The Spider" having won his last two contests, including hos most recent win over former 185-pound title challenger Thales Leites, while the social media savvy Brazilian returns to the Octagon from a 12-month suspension for a failed drug test.
With their long-awaited tilt set to take place shortly, MMA Mania caught up with Bisping to talk about his training camp, the psychological part of facing Silva, this being a legacy fight and more.
After your fight was announced, when did you begin training camp?
Bisping: It actually worked out quite well because after the 2nd of January, it was actually eight weeks out from my fight. Typically, a fight camp is eight weeks. To be honest, eight weeks is too long. I only give myself an eight-week camp, but five or six weeks into it, I'm ready to go.
Heading into your 25th Octagon appearance, and a very important one at that, have you done anything extra like bring in a nutritionist?
MB: I have enlisted the help of a nutritionist for this camp, Dan Gardener, simply because it is a big fight and I want to do everything I can to ensure victory. I felt it couldn't hurt to bring in a nutritionist, who can give his thoughts as well. For this camp, I've written out a schedule that's lighter in volume than as what some other training camps have been.
What about movement training? We've seen featherweight champion Conor McGregor put an emphasis on that.
MB: Another word that's been used throughout the history of fighting is agility. I've always done agility training. He hasn't exactly reinvented the wheel here. People have been doing agility in fighting forever; since the 1700s. I've hired a flexibility coach to work on my range of motion.
For a fighter like you, who's 12 years into their pro career, what has kept you competing at a high level?
MB: I'm as hungry as I was day one. For me, what it's all about is trying to calm down. I would train and get worked up, but my mind gets manic. The way I train, I always want to go a million miles an hour. What I'm trying to do is get my body at maximum output, but my mind is still in first or second gear.
Moving on to your bout with Anderson, can you describe what makes him such a great fighter, not just inside the Octagon, but out of it as well? The intangibles.
MB: I believe people have been just so terrified of him in the past. He did beat Nick Diaz, but I still thought he looked beatable. The reason for that was Nick wasn't intimidated ... he wasn't scared.
People have froze in the past. When you look at the fight with Vitor Belfort, he was just standing right in front of him. It was a beautiful shot. He fell into the trap.
When I look at Anderson, I see a very beatable fighter. He's not the fastest, and he's not the most powerful, but he's very, very precise and accurate. Anderson hasn't fought anyone with my footwork, my speed and my pace. I think I'm capable of taking him down as well.
So there's quite a bit of mental preparation you have to do when facing a fighter the caliber of Anderson?
MB: Of course, it's the oldest cliche in the world. Fighting is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental, but it really is. It plays such a huge part in this. I'm a very emotional guy and sometimes those emotions have gotten the best of me. Jason Parillo is working very well with me on that side of things.
Going into this fight, there will be critics who say that you're catching Anderson at the tail end of his career. Do you think that's justified?
MB: I'm getting him at a good time. You can't deny the facts. This isn't him after a 10-fight win streak.
Being that this was a fight that many -- including you -- thought would happen years ago, are you approaching it with any added pressure? Will it define your UFC legacy?
MB: Certainly, this is a legacy fight. Anderson will probably be remembered as the Muhammad Ali of UFC, if you will. Of course, I'd want to fight him and when I beat him this will be a fight that people talk about down the line. There's still a lot of life in this dog.
Would you ever consider competing in any other organization other than UFC?
MB: I have no intentions of competing with any other organization. Listen, at the end of the day, money talks and that's what we're all here for, but I've always been happy with the way UFC has treated me. Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] have been exceptional with me ... above and beyond.
Before we go, do you believe a win on Saturday will earn you a title shot and have you discussed this possibility with Dana?
MB: After I beat Anderson I will have won four of my last five, my only loss being to the current champion [Luke Rockhold]. There were mitigating circumstances in that fight. He headbutted me in the first round and then blood was getting in my eye. It was a real pain in the ass.
I said to Dana White when we discussed the Anderson Silva fight, 'please, I want my shot at the title.' He said, 'well let's just see what happens with Anderson and we'll discuss it after that.'
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