Now that we have UFC On FOX 8 firmly in the books, it's time to look forward to other events and potential fight match-ups. The middleweight division has taken on a whole new facet of interesting for me, especially since Chris Weidman is now wearing the strap. I'm excited as can be for the rematch, but there are also some other great fights to make at 185.
One potential bout that really intrigues me is Michael Bisping vs Mark Munoz. It's been chattered about a good bit, and rumors are flying, but it has not been officially signed or even agreed upon verbally at this juncture. That's not to say it won't happen, it's just not signed and sealed yet. It almost seems like the most logical fight to make, both from a rankings perspective and from a ratings perspective, as Bisping has a habit of putting asses in seats, and he's still single minded in his pursuit of the title.
Michael recently took the time to sit down for an interview with my co-host, Iain Kidd and myself for our website, MMA Sentinel, and as always, for Bloody Elbow. He discussed his thoughts on Munoz, going back to the light heavyweight division, his commentary deal, avenging losses and several other topics.
Before the interview started, Mike wanted to address the rumors about him being knocked out while sparring. He told us that since his last fight, he hasn't done any sparring whatsoever, let alone getting knocked out at Wild Card gym. He said the rumor is 'utter, utter, fabricated nonsense.'
How His Electric Hometown Entrances Feel
It's really, really hard to put into words. It's just the most unbelievable experience. Obviously I've been on the other side as well. I've walked out to 20,000 fans booing me, but you tend to block that out. When you walk out, and the arena is going crazy, and they're chanting your name, you fully rejoice in that, and you take it on board. It definitely super charges me, and gives me more energy and gets me more hyped for the fight. I'm just very thankful for every one of the supporters that have given me those memories, and hopefully, long may it continue
I'm always focused on winning the fight, regardless of whether they are booing or cheering, but I think it does help. It definitely helps. It doesn't hinder my performance when they're not cheering, but it definitely helps when they are.
I don't want people coming out and spending their hard earned money to support me, only for me to send them home with a bad result, so I want to win. I want to win for myself and I want to win for them.
It certainly helps if you're in a bad situation; I remember when I fought in Manchester, Elvis Sinosic had me in a kimura, and there was no way I was tapping to it. He even said after it that he heard my arm crack three times, and I certainly felt it crack three times, but there was no way I was going to tap, so yeah, it definitely does help..
Thoughts on Potential Mark Munoz Fight
First off, my fight with Mark Munoz, I know it's rumored, but I can neither confirm nor deny it at the moment. Nothing is signed yet, so I can't confirm whether that is my next opponent. If it is, then I will welcome it, because it will definitely be a great fight, but I don't know for sure if it is yet.
Regarding his last fight, Mark Munoz looked fantastic. You can't take that away from him. Tim Boetsch is a tough guy, and had a good first round, but in rounds two and three Munoz completely controlled the fight. He threw him around like a ragdoll, he controlled him, he took him down, he got some good ground and pound and I thought he looked fantastic. I thought he looked really, really good. He looked like a contender for the title.
That said, on the flip-side, Tim Boetsch, while being a very, very tough fighter, kind of plays into Munoz's style a little bit. Boetsch plods, he's not exactly the most graceful footwork artist in the UFC. He kind of just walks straight forward, and that plays right into Mark Munoz's hands. So he kind of gave Munoz the victory in that respect, but nevertheless it was a fantastic victory and a great performance.
Costa Philippou is doing well. He's won four or five I think, and good for him, but he's not in a position to be making claims that I have to go through him. He hasn't been around very long. He's not a household name in mixed martial arts. If I was to fight him in Manchester, a lot of the English crowd would be like, 'Who? Who is this guy he's fighting?'
I'm not saying he wouldn't be a tough fight, but he doesn't excite me and he doesn't have the buzz or the name recognition that I'm looking for, so he's still got some more work to do. He had a fluke win over Tim Boetsch anyway. It was a clash of heads, and after that Boetsch kind of fell to pieces. Costa saying I have to go through him ... The guy really needs to get a grip on reality. He's been around two years, I've been in the UFC for eight years, so he needs to check himself.
I would love to rematch all the guys that have a victory over me. Chael is one of them, Rashad, Henderson, Vitor ... I'd love to fight them all. I'd love to get another crack. After every loss I've gone back to the drawing board, so to speak, figured out what went wrong, and I've come back as a better fighter.
Dan Henderson? I know I'd definitely take care of him. Chael? I beat him the first time, but I'd make it even more unanimous in the second. Vitor? I was doing very well until I got caught with a head kick, so I've adjusted for that as well. I believe I could beat everyone that has beaten me up until now. They beat me on the night, so fair play to them, but I would love a rematch with any of those guys.
Beating Guys That Are on TRT
To be honest, it's not something I give too much thought to. I don't sit around thinking about TRT, and thinking about how I want to beat all these guys. I just think it's a disappointing way for guys to manipulate the system, and I don't think it should be allowed.
TRT is only allowed in Boxing and mixed martial arts, and that's crazy. These are sports where somebody could get hurt, or god forbid, people could die under the right circumstances, so I don't think they should be allowed to enhance their testosterone. When you're punching and kicking people in the head as hard as you can, you shouldn't be allowed to have it. That's my view on it.
His Underrated Anti-Wrestling
I think people underrate me in general. Mark Munoz seems to think that he has me beaten in all areas, and he's sorely mistaken. It happens every time. Alan Belcher, in the last fight, was so confident that he had me beat in all areas, but I'm not sure the guy landed a single punch. He couldn't take me down, and he had nothing for me. It's the same with every one of my fights, and I love it. I go into the Octagon, and they don't think I'm very good, but they certainly have a very different impression afterwards.
Regarding my anti-wrestling, being British, we obviously don't have a wrestling background, so I've had to work hard on my takedown defense, otherwise my career would have been over before it started. I would have lost my first few fights in the UFC, and got cut after The Ultimate Fighter. So I had to work hard on that, and I've just tried to absorb as many techniques as I possibly can. I've worked hard on being able to get back to my feet and being able to stuff the takedowns, and now I'm getting to a point where I'm confident in my offensive wrestling, and my ability to take them down.
It's been a lot of hard work, and yeah, I'm happy with my takedown defense. Mark Munoz, if we do fight, he's a wrestler, and you know, good luck trying to take me down, pal.
People Calling Him Out
You'd think people would learn to stop calling me out, but they keep doing it. They think I'm an easy target. I'm one of the longest standing fighters in the UFC now, and I don't want to sound arrogant, but a lot of people know who I am. Some of these fighters who want to fight me and beat me, just want a bit of my name recognition for themselves.
Even an English guy, Tom Watson, has been dropping my name left, right and center, trying to get a bit of my name recognition, and I said to him, 'Listen, do it off of your own back, mate, leave my name out of your mouth.'
A lot of the Americans do it, a lot of fighters in general love to call me out, and I get a kick out of it. It makes me chuckle. As long as they keep calling me out, I'm going to have a job for a long, long time.
Weidman vs Silva
To be honest, I picked Weidman to win the fight, but I thought he would win it by decision or submission, or if he did stop it, by ground and pound. I never in a million years thought it would be on the feet. It's a cliché but you've always got to respect your opponent, and Anderson didn't do that. He's been able to get away with it for far too long, and he ultimately paid the price. He paid the price. It's as simple as that. I don't think he'll act like that in the rematch, but in the rematch I think Weidman is just going to be all about the takedowns, and I see Weidman winning the rematch as well, to be honest.
For me, I'm single minded in the fact that I want the title, but I would love to fight Anderson. Regardless of whether or not he lost the other week, or loses the rematch, he's still a legendary fighter. He's going to go down in the history books. He's probably going to end up like the Muhammed Ali of MMA, so it would be an honor to fight that guy one day.
Going Back to Light Heavyweight
The UFC have never asked me to do that, but it's certainly something I would consider. I had a very good career at light heavyweight. I was 15-1, and my only loss was a very close split decision to Rashad Evans. It's certainly something I would consider, especially now that I have a lot more knowledge on nutrition. If I was to go back to light heavyweight, I could go in a lot bigger and stronger than what I have been in the past. It's definitely something that's on my mind, and maybe as I start getting a bit older, and middleweight gets a little harder to get to ... Then yeah, sure, it's something I will consider.
One Thing He Would Tell His Younger Self
I've learned this the hard way, but you've just got to fight your own fight, and don't worry too much about the other guy. Of course you've always got to take into consideration what your opponent is going to do, but always fight your own fight, and don't try and implement game plans too much.
I implemented a game plan for the Chris Leben fight, and it went perfect. I tried to implement the same game plan in the Dan Henderson fight, and it got me knocked out. What I should have been doing is going forward and letting him worry about me, and that's what I've gone back to now.
I'd just tell my young self to stick to what's made me successful in the first place, and don't change.
Ongoing Arm/Neck Injury Issues
I've had a stenosis. It's like a pinched nerve, which has been causing a loss of strength and muscle loss, and a lack of response time. My front Deltoid, my right bicep and my front pec are affected. In the weight room my arm had got so weak that it was embarrassing. It really was bad. The muscle loss, it's called atrophy, was getting quite noticeable.
I had a cortisone epidural into my spine, into the c5-c6 area. Obviously the last thing you want to do is operate, so we've tried this, and I'm hopeful about it. I'm seeing an increase in strength again. The idea with the cortisone is to remove the inflammation, and take the pressure off the nerve, and it's looking like it worked. To get strength back is not an overnight thing, so I've got to build that back up again, but as I said, I'm hopeful on that. It looks good. My bench press has gone back up, and in the weight room it's all looking positive.
Fox Analyst Deal
I've signed a two year deal, and I'm actually doing the guest analyst spot next weekend on Fox, for UFC 163, the Jose Aldo fight.
It's actually a more challenging job than people think. It's live TV, you've got an earpiece in your ear with the studio talking to you, telling you what to do, while you're talking on camera. The guys that do it, they're very, very skilled. There's definitely an art to it.
Obviously we all have our favorites, and that can sway your judgement sometimes, so you have to make sure you watch the fights with an open mind. You've also got to watch them from a more technical perspective.
Sometimes you just want to watch a fight and switch your brain off; you're just happy to see the fight, and happy to see the action. When you're analysing the fights, you have to watch from a much more technical perspective, and try to relay the points that you pick up to the audience at home. You have to let the audience know why things are successful, so you have to watch it very closely, and engage your brain, which I don't like to do. I like to just sit down, switch my brain off, have a beer and enjoy the fights [laughs].
The bosses there have been happy with what I've done so far, so hopefully next weekend goes well, and you see me on there a lot more regularly.
I've done two movies this year. The first movie, at the start of the year, is called 'Plastic'. It's a British gangster movie, and I'm very excited about it. It's got a very, very good cast, and I play Casper, who is a bit of a thug, basically. He's one of the heavies. It's quite a funny role, and has some good action scenes in it. That should be released at the end of the year.
The movie that I just finished shooting in Times Square, is called 'The Anomaly'. It's a Universal Studios picture, with a fantastic cast. It's kind of a science fiction, futuristic, thriller. I play Sergio, a Russian gangster who owns a brothel in Times Square, and who is just a nasty piece of work, basically. He's involved in lots of action, some good fight scenes, and he's just a nasty bastard.
I seem to always play the same parts, I seem to play the gangster. Maybe one day I'll do a bit of Shakespeare.
You can follow Michael via his Twitter account, @Bisping