We’re just two and a half weeks away from my co-main event fight against Michael Bisping at UFC 159. My mindset is that this is the biggest fight of my life, and this fight allows me to take it to the next level in terms of my career, my earning power, and my quest to earn a UFC title shot.
This is the most competitive the 185-lbs division has ever been. All the top guys are winning some, losing some, and no one is going on a huge streak of knocking people out. It’s that competitive right now. If any one of us in the top 10 were around in 2005 or 2006, we’d be getting title shots, but in 2013 the talent in the division is higher than it has ever been.
We are going all out to stand out from the chasing pack behind champ Anderson Silva. That’s why I’ve wanted this fight with Bisping for so long. He’s got things I don’t. He’s got the fans, the profile, the pay grade that I don’t. And I want those things for myself, so I want to beat him to get to that level. I’ve been asking for this fight for a long time, out of respect but I recognized he was ahead of me in his career. If you are No. 10, you call out No. 9. If you are No. 9, you call out No.8. If you are No.8, you call out No.7… you always want to fight the guy ahead of you.
That’s why I’ve wanted to fight Bisping for so long. It is an obvious fight between two guys with similar style and 99 times out of 100 it is a great fight.
The loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 155 really hurt my momentum. Before that, I had a nice streak there. I hadn’t really lost a fight since 2008, when I lost to Jason Day, and was on a good run of winning inside the distance, beating Patrick Cote, Jason MacDonald and Rousimar Palhares in two rounds or less.
[Also: Cat Zingano took a pro Muay Thai fight on a whim in Thailand]
Okami is always going to be the best grappler out there, as long as he’s in shape. At the same time, I wasn’t in the shape I wanted and needed to be. No excuses, but I made mistakes in training which were my fault and didn’t allow me to perform like I needed to on the night. I take nothing away from Okami. I knew what he was going to try to do and I failed to stop him on the night. It sucked.
What bothered me was Bisping immediately jumped on Twitter and started kicking me when I was down, saying now that I’d lost, he never had to hear about me again. Then he got his ass knocked out, so he DOES have to hear about me again. We are now back to being face-to-face. We both need to win big to get back in the mix and, unlike last year when he chose to fight Brian Stann in an easier fight, he has to fight me. He has no more excuses or anywhere to hide.
Like he always does, Bisping started with the name-calling games right away. He is very smart like that. He does the psychological aspect of the game so well. He tries to control the media and story of the fight during the buildup by coming out with his funny jokes and having the first and last word all the time.
Then he tries to embarrass opponents and get in their head at the press conference, with more jokes and pushing his head into opponent's faces, getting them all pissed off and unfocused in the final 24 hours of weight-cutting. Then he snarls and screams in the Octagon, starts fast and tries to steal rounds off you.
That isn’t happening in this fight. He’s a bully with his smack-talking and I’ve never had a problem standing up to bullies. As soon as he started with the name-calling, and saying he was going to KO me inside one round, I knew I couldn’t let him get away with that. I did a video where I called his bluff and said I’d get a tattoo of the British flag on my arm if he KO’d me in Round 1, and when I KO him he gets a Johnny Cash tattoo. He backed down right away, and he’s going to keep backing down because I’ve done my homework on this guy and know all his little tricks.
This fight started as me just wanting to get a fight with a bigger name, but it is escalating, like all Bisping fights do, into where I want to kick his ass bad. He doesn’t represent himself as a fighter very well, with the trash talk and the spitting, but I respect him as a fighter and the way he gets guys beat before the fight even starts with his antics outside the Octagon.
I know he’s going to be very motivated after his last fight. He was embarrassed to lose another No. 1 contender fight last time and will want to win this fight bad. Only, I’m as good as he is in all areas but with better submissions and a lot more power in my strikes. I can walk through his best shots, but one of mine will knock him out. All his smack talk won’t change that.
In my mind, this is a fight to get a No. 1 contender fight. Bisping didn’t lose to Vitor Belfort in January. When someone cheats with substances, like Belfort has done, it doesn’t count as a win. Belfort hasn’t proved he can win a big fight without taking steroids or TRT, so I think when I KO Bisping I should get all the recognition for being the first guy to do so since Dan Henderson did at UFC 100.
Follow me on Twitter @alanbelcherufc and check out smashthebrit.com.
Alan Belcher vs Michael Bisping takes place as the co-main event of UFC 159, April 27 on Pay-Per-View and Yahoo! Sports.
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