Many fight fans were surprised to see former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping step up to fight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 122 on Nov. 25 in Shanghai, China. After all, Bisping is coming off a submission defeat to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 earlier this month in which he lost his 185-pound title.
Still, Bisping is up for the challenge and more than willing to fill in for the legendary Anderson Silva. While Gastelum is essentially a welterweight stuck in the middleweight title mix, Bisping’s striking coach, Jason Parillo, believes the young contender is actually a more difficult matchup on the feet than GSP was.
“Really, Kelvin is, in my opinion, on the feet, a tougher fight than Georges St-Pierre,” said Parillo in a recent interview on the ESPN Five Rounds podcast . “It’s not like Mike’s a guy that shoots and wrestles all the time so obviously it’s gonna be a lot of stand up fighting and this guy’s a bigger threat than I think that even Georges was.”
At 38 years of age, and nearing retirement, Bisping is taking a big chance by fighting just weeks after getting choked unconscious by St-Pierre in New York City. While Parillo understands the risks involved in such a short turnaround he fully supports Bisping’s decision.
“This guy’s got a different mind frame,” said Parillo. “Is it gonna hurt or help him? We’re gonna find out. . . You can look at it both ways. I’m looking that it’s a good thing that Michael wants to do. It’s something that he’s very happy about the decision that he made to do this, so we’ve got to ride that positive mind into this fight and hope for the best.”
As far as Gastelum is concerned, Team Bisping is not taking him lightly. Despite his recent submission loss to former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman earlier this year, Gastelum is a potent force at 185 pounds. So even though Bisping was quick to sign on and challenge the young Gastelum, Parillo and company are not taking anyone lightly, especially on short notice.
“I’m concerned with everybody,” explained Parillo. “If the guy’s got two arms and two legs and breathes, there’s a concern. You’ve got to try to look at the concern of it but you’ve also gotta support your athlete and go in there with a positive mind frame. I know Michael can beat Kelvin Gastelum. I know Michael could beat GSP. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that Michael would’ve started running away with it had we got to that fourth round.
“Mike is a world champion and he can fight any guy on the planet. Is there a question about how he’s gonna be mentally with how close this fight is? Sure, there could be. But I have a feeling Mike’s head is gonna be right in this fight and it’s something that he really wants to go out there and win and try to dust off his last loss. We’re going in. We’re gonna go in regardless of whether I have concerns or don’t have concerns. We’re gonna go in and we’re gonna go in there to win.”
Whether or not Bisping is able to get past Gastelum next weekend in China, the long-time veteran is hoping to retire this March at UFC’s event in London, England.
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