Friday, February 23, 2007

The ‘Count’down with Michael Bisping – Week Two

By Michael "The Count" Bisping

Surprise! Guess who’s on the UFC 70 card in Manchester, England?

Obviously I knew that there was a very, very good chance that the UFC would want me on their first British show in five years, but I was still over the moon to get the phone call to confirm it. I’m very excited; I am fighting in virtually my hometown – I live a 40 minute drive away from the MEN arena – and I cannot wait for April 21.

But now I’ve got the green light I’ve got to make sure I deliver the goods inside the Octagon.

My opponent has been named as Elvis Sinosic, who I know a lot about. He’s been around for a long time and is better than his record suggests. His losses against guys like Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin aren’t exactly anything to be ashamed of and he’s a dangerous fighter, especially as all the pressure will be on me to put in a performance in England.

There will be no pressure at all on Elvis and I think that will bring out the best in him.

Stylewise, Elvis is very good on the ground working for submissions, but his wrestling, at least I don’t think, isn’t going be a major problem for me. Australia is like England, where they don’t have much wrestling in schools and I don’t think he’s going to surprise me with anything wrestling-wise and, actually, I think maybe he’ll look to keep it on his feet with me and have a bit of a war.

That would suit me just fine ordinarily but I’ve been thinking… I’ve not scored a submission in the UFC yet – they’ve all been knockouts – and I’d like to show off the submission side of my game.

Either way, though, I am looking to finish this in one round and really give the British fans something to cheer about. Put it this way, it will be a cold day in hell before some Australian comes over to my country and beats me up in front of my friends and family.

Trust me - I’m checking Elvis into the Heartbreak Hotel via the express desk!

Don’t know if you guys have seen it, but I couldn’t believe the comments former boxing champion Barry McGuigan made about the UFC last week.

For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Barry McGuigan was a world champion boxer in the 1980s and has gone on to become probably the best known boxing TV pundit in Britain.

In an interview last week he was asked about his views on mixed martial arts in general and UFC in particular and he just launched into this really ridiculous rant.

Before finishing off by saying there’s no skill to MMA, he called UFC “trashy”, “undignified” and “dirty”. He also talked some complete rubbish about some imaginary “statistics” proving boxing is safer than MMA, which we all know is complete crap.

UFC fans are well used to reading or hearing all sorts of ignorant things said about our sport, I know, but McGuigan is a former fighter and I just couldn’t believe his comments, to be honest.

I know boxing is his bread and butter and maybe he’s worried that UFC will replace boxing or something but I’ve never heard any MMA fighter disrespect an entire sport and all its athletes the way McGuigan did.

There are plenty of sports I don’t particularly like, but I respect that sport’s athletes at the very least and I think McGuigan was out of order by not extending MMA athletes this same courtesy.

He was very, very disrespectful and there was absolutely no need for it.

I don’t want to be one of those fighters who starts challenging the best boxers to get in the Octagon because, at the end of the day, MMA v boxing would be like American Football v soccer: you can’t match one against the other because of the different rules.

But I’d like to invite Barry to visit the Wolf’s Lair MMA academy where I train in Runcorn and I’d happily do my best to try and educate him as to the various techniques we use in MMA. I’m confident that as a former fighter who is supposed to the one of the best fight analysts in the UK, Barry would appreciate the skill levels required to compete in the UFC – if only he could be bothered to learn.

If he can’t be bothered – that’s fair enough, as well – but in that case next time he’s asked about MMA he should just say he’s not a fan and doesn’t watch it. Better to do that than make a fool of himself by being so disrespectful and ignorant.

Just want to clear something up from last week’s column because I’ve seen a lot of feedback on various forums about what I said about Quinton Jackson’s first fight in the UFC.

When I said I’d give him 5 out of 10 for his fight against Marvin Eastman - I wasn’t dissing Rampage at all. He’s a great fighter and a massive addition to the UFC. All I was saying was that he was below par – by his own standards, obviously - in his UFC debut at UFC 67.

And if you remember, Rampage himself said pretty much the same thing after the fight, too.

The UFC’s new UK President, Marshall Zelaznik, came to the gym to see me train on Wednesday. It was a really classy gesture on Marshall’s part and it was nice to have the chance to get to know him a little better.

Marshall’s from the States and has moved his wife and five-year-old son to England and, quite impressively, he’s jumped right into English culture. He always calls his phone his “mobile” rather than his “cell” and I think I’ve convinced him to check out classic British TV like ‘Only Fools & Horses’.

More seriously, Marshall showed me some of the designs for the posters for UFC 70 and they look absolutely amazing. And wait until you see the adverts which are going to be on TV… you’ll be blown away.

See you next week, ‘the Count’

As told to Ant Evans

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