The Count “Hungrier than ever” prior to UFC 110


UFC middleweight Michael Bisping (18-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) was well on his way to a middleweight title shot with three straight octagon victories before Dan Henderson knocked him out clean at UFC 100.

A devastating knockout could reasonably sap the confidence of any fighter. But Bisping, an innately self-assured fighter, said he was humbled by the loss and had moved onward and upward.

Now heading into a fight with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110 that could move him within striking distance of contendership, Bisping on Wednesday said he is more motivated than ever to prove he belongs at the top of the 185-pound division.

“I had to look at that and work on why I got knocked out and try to improve those holes (in my game),” Bisping said during a media teleconference promoting UFC 110 on Feb. 21 in Sydney, Australia. “You’ve got to constantly evolve. If you stay the same, people are going to figure you out, and you’re going to become predictable.”

And contrary to popular belief, Bisping said, he was humble enough to learn that lesson.

Bisping expressed irritation at the scolding he received for the UFC 100 performance in which he circled into Henderson’s powerful right hand and set the stage for the knockout.

“It kind of pisses me off, people going into that all the time, as if I’m stupid,” he said. “Obviously when you’re fighting an opponent, you move to their weak side because they’re not going to do that; you go the opposite direction.

“But then sometimes in a fight, when a guy’s cutting you off one way, and you’re taking some big shots, they leave you with no option but to go that way. Sometimes, after taking a few shots, you’re fighting on instinct as well.”

That instinct, he said, may have been rooted in his previous fight against Chris Leben, a southpaw with a big left hand.

“So there’s a lot of theories,” Bisping said. “My manager has a theory. Some of my teammates and coaches have a theory. Fact of the matter is I got hit with some shots. I was doing OK in the second round. I think I was winning the second round until he hit me with that shot. But you learn from your mistakes.”

Bisping surprised many in his most recent fight by taking down veteran fighter Denis Kang and pounding him out after landing on his back early at UFC 105 this past November. The performance won him a “Fight of the Night” bonus, his second such honor.

Going into the fight with Silva – a Tasmanian devil of aggression – Bisping said defense is a top priority in camp.

“Before that fight (with Henderson), I was of the impression that I could go out there and stand with anyone for three rounds and not get knocked out,” Bisping said. “I’m not saying I would have beaten [Henderson], but I certainly believed that I could go out there and stand with him for three rounds and not get knocked out.

“Obviously, that wasn’t the case; I got knocked out. So I’ve tightened a few things up.”

And no one could be more qualified to help Bisping tighten up his defense than Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, a training partner since late 2006 who fought Silva on three different occasions and knocked him out at UFC 92.

Bisping said Jackson has been with him in Sydney several weeks and will be in his corner on Feb. 21.

“He’s given me great insight into the fight,” Bisping said. “He brings some good strategy to the table, and he told me what to expect. It’s been invaluable having him.”

The Brit said he won’t be bullied by his opponent’s Blitzkrieg style.

“Wanderlei’s a strong clincher, but I’m planning on standing toe to toe and beating him head on,” Bisping said.

Although he stumbled on the way up the middleweight ladder, Bisping said he embraced the cliché that fighters learn from their losses.

“I wanted to go out there and take my respect in [the Henderson] fight, and it didn’t work out that way,” he said. “So it’s made me even hungrier to prove to the world that I am that level of fighter, and that alone has pushed me harder in training.”

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