Monday, March 5, 2007

The ‘Count’down with Michael Bisping - Week Three

By Michael Bisping


With less than eight weeks to go before fight time at the MEN Arena, I’m really pushing myself full blast in training.

April 21 may still seem like a long way away but, believe me, these next weeks will fly by - and I could not wait to start kicking my own arse in the gym.

I think one of my main assets as a fighter is - unusually - I actually love the training aspect of it. I’m weird like that - I look forward to it and actually miss it when I am not doing it.

The only part I don’t love doing is running on treadmills - I get bored of them so I go for nice scenic runs around the local woods and hills instead with my new iPod.

I’m constantly evolving my training for each and every fight and I‘ve just got back from Birmingham, where I‘ve been training for a few days with respected coach Mark Goddard and his K-1 fighters.

I’ve also been training really hard at the Wolf’s Lair in Runcorn, my usual gym, but I just wanted to spar with a few new bodies just for a couple of days just to shake things up a bit.

Back at the Wolf’s Lair, my boxing coach Tony Quigley tells me I’m hitting harder than ever and – without letting my April 21 opponent Elvis Sinosic in on anything - I’ve worked really, really hard this week on perfecting a certain strike and am very pleased with the results. If I land this thing at the MEN, Elvis may well leave the building through the roof.


As I said here a couple of weeks ago, Dana White has very kindly described me as the UFC’s “poster boy” for the UK and while I was flattered, I never quite knew what he was on about.

Until this week.

I was on a train to London the other day for a bit of PR work and when we slowed down to go through Wolverhampton station there was a huge mug shot of yours truly staring right back at me from the platform.

Mates of mine have seen massive posters all over the place - on motorways, billboards in London, Manchester, Birmingham - all over. It’s mad, really. Like I’ve said before, I only took this sport up a few years ago and to see myself as part of something massive like this is a bit amazing.

Now I’ve got to live up to the hype, of course.

It seems every fight I’ve had in the UFC is bigger, and comes with more pressure than the last and, with me on the poster for UFC 70: Nations Collide along with great names like Mirko Cro Cop and Andrei Arlovski, this one is no different.

If I don’t kick Elvis’s arse on April 21, I could be putting UFC posters up next time rather than appearing on them.

When you think of it in terms like that, you work your arse off even harder in the gym.

I’ve literally moved into the Wolf’s Lair now. I have an hour’s drive each morning to get to the gym and an hour’s drive back home so, when I am in full training like I am now, I go to the gym in the morning, train for a few hours, then relax in one of the dorms they’ve got at the back of the gym, then train again in the evening. It saves me a two hour round trip and from going mental in all the traffic.


Quinton Jackson was in England the other week doing some media work and, although we fired a few friendly jibes at each other, we got on great and I’m happy to have got to know him a bit.

He was very funny, he kept asking everyone where we kept all the black people in England and things like that. We had a bit of banter at the UFC press conference in Manchester the other Friday – probably because of that Jackson Five out of 10 thing I wrote (laughs) - but it was just fighter talk.

Me and my training team invited Rampage and Dean Lister - who was also in town - out for a night around Liverpool and show them some English hospitality.

A good night was had by all.

Rampage and I actually found we’re a lot like each other - we are both always cracking jokes and don’t take too much that seriously.

But, anyway, enough on Mr Jackson!


During my trip to Birmingham, I taught a seminar for about 30-35 mixed martial artists and was impressed by what I saw.

There were all levels of MMA at the seminar – absolute beginners to guys who’ve had a couple of fights, kids to older guys - people from all walks of life, basically.

But all of them had a passion for MMA and I’m seeing more and more of that around the country.

I think British MMA is closing the gap on the Americans and, with the UFC now back in Britain in a major way, I think the standard of British fighters will now really start to improve rapidly as more and more people come into the sport.

One of the things the guys at the seminar were asking me about - and the thing UFC fans ask me the most about as well - was the flying knee that I used to win the TUF 3 semi final v Ross Pointon last year. It’s a move I am happy to talk about because it was a real highlight reel move - one of my gym mates said it looked like something out of the Matrix movies!

One of the students asked me why I threw the left knee, thinking that because I stand with my left leg forward, I’d have gotten more power if I’d thrown the right knee.

I explained that I’m actually left-handed, and my power leg (and power hand) is my left. Don’t get me wrong, I hit plenty hard with both hands and feet, but I am a converted southpaw - just like legendary world boxing champion Joe Louis.


Many, many congratulations to Randy Couture, who of course won the UFC Heavyweight Title for the third time Saturday night in Ohio. It was a tremendous performance and achievement by Randy to beat Tim Sylvia - and to see him come back at 43 to achieve what he did this weekend is nothing short of remarkable.

The guy is amazing and no one deserves the distinction of being the most decorated UFC star in history more than ‘the Natural’.

I’ve only met Randy three or four times and what everyone says about him - that’s he’s a world class gentleman and just a totally classy guy - is all true. He’s a fantastic ambassador for the UFC and so welcome back ‘the Natural’.

Hopefully, he’ll now come across to Manchester for UFC 70 to see who wins out of Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ and Gabriel Gonzaga and fights him in his first defense of his new title.

I’m sure if Randy does come across to England in April, the British fans will make the now five time champion feel very, very welcome.

Until next week - the Count.

As told to Ant Evans.

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