(“The Count,” courtesy of Bisping.tv.)
Though he was impressive as a light-heavyweight — winning The Ultimate Fighter 3 after going 10-0 in England, then beating down Eric Schafer and Elvis Sinosic — two rough split-decisions convinced Michael Bisping to drop to a more competitive weight. And since then, he’s looked absolutely scary. Bisping will be looking to continue his success as a 185-pounder at UFC 89 (October 18th; Birmingham, England), where he’ll take on Chris Leben in the main event; a win would officially make the Liverpool-native a title contender. Ben Zeidler caught up with The Count recently to get his take on his next opponent, the UFC’s middleweight title picture, and that rumor about him being a future TUF coach.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: What have you done to prepare for Chris Leben?
MICHAEL BISPING: Well, obviously he’s a southpaw so we’ve been bringing in a ton of southpaws to spar with. I see a lot of problems with him, so I’ve been trying to really step up my training. You know, it’s the all-around game, the all-around training. I’m very focused.
Do you prefer to fight in England? What does it mean to be the hometown favorite every time out?
When I go out there, it’s unbelievable. I can’t even put it into words. I have great memories there, for sure, but the UFC fans are always amazing no matter where I go. The sport is so great and so awesome right now that any fans, in any arena in the world, are just great. Fighting in the UFC is very special to me.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding your UFC 75 win against Matt Hamill. Do you believe you won that fight?
You know what, I want to fight Matt again. It was really close and depending on what you’re looking for, you can make an argument either way. People say that it went my way because it was in the UK, but the UK judge is the one who gave it to Hamill. It was the Americans who gave me the decision. Hamill definitely won the first round, and that’s because I wasn’t prepared mentally. I didn’t focus. He caught me off guard and came out guns blazing. I needed to get in gear and I did. I started to take control, he got some takedowns but I got some on my own accord, and I did more damage. I won 2-1 but it was close. I should have given him more props, but we had some history going into the fight, so I wasn’t prepared. But I do think I won.