Why I'm more anxious than ever to get back in the Octagon

Yahoo Sports

Michael Bisping preens for the crowd during a weigh-in. (Getty)


Middleweight contenders Tim Kennedy and Michael Bisping will settle their score in the Octagon in a five-round main event at The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia. In the meantime, they'll be trash-talking one another with blogs on Yahoo Sports.

My fight with Tim Kennedy in Quebec City, Canada, is a little under two weeks away now. I’m ready to get on a plane, kick the crap out of this idiot, get paid, and go home. I’ve reached that point where I am counting the hours down.

It’s been a year since I last fought, beating Alan Belcher at UFC 159 last April, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back doing what I love. Well, maybe the only way I can describe it, is to contrast it with when I thought that maybe I’d never be doing this again and my career was over.

Stick with me; I’m not trying to be all “woe is me.” I’m just trying to explain how bad things were, which makes me appreciate getting back on with “business as usual” even more.

As you know, I had a series of eye issues ever since my fight with Vitor Belfort. It would get progressively worse through the Belcher fight and into my scheduled fight with Mark Munoz in Manchester, England, last October.

Getting told I wouldn’t be fighting in my hometown of Manchester was a real low point. I’ve been very lucky to have fought twice already in Canada, along with twice in Australia and all over the United States – and I’m grateful for having seen some of the world because of the UFC – but I haven’t fought in the UK since UFC 120, way back in October of 2010, and I really wanted to fight in front of the British fans again.

But, after hearing I was struggling with my eye, Dana White called me and asked what was the story, and, in his words, I sounded like a “used car salesman” in trying to convince him I was all good to fight. Naturally, Dana sent me to a UFC doctor… and I was eventually pulled from the fight.

I was pretty disappointed. I thought a big win over Munoz would set me up with another top three or four contender and get me that much closer to a title fight. But my mind was soon taken off of what I’d missed out on, because my eye got so bad I was ordered to rest, not training at all, and I was suddenly not only missing out on the Munoz fight, but my entire career was now in limbo.

In late October, I was at home, just taking the dog for a walk with my wife, Becky, and our youngest son. As we were out, I started getting a massive headache. By the time I got home, it was killing me. An hour later I was face down on the floor, literally screaming in pain. My head was just so painful I don’t know how to describe it other than the worst pain of my life.

I went to bed, but it got worse and worse. I could barely speak (insert joke here, by all means), and was actually sick with pain. Becky drove me to hospital and they operated. I actually had three emergency surgeries that day because the first operation didn’t go according to plan, I woke up and was in even more pain, I will writhing all over the place, so they put me back under and tried again. They said the pressure behind my eye was almost eight times what it should be, and they’d never even heard of that, much less seen that happen.

When I woke up the next day and, thankfully, the pain was gone. Still groggy, I kept asking over and over “When can I fight again?”

It was worrying I didn’t get an immediate answer. That was the start of two or three months where I didn’t know if I’d ever fight again.

My doctor said I COULD make a recovery, and put fluid in my eye which acts almost like a brace does on a sprained knee, it supports and protects it. I was told to take it easy and come back for another check up in a few months. More worrying, more hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

The next lowest point was when I was at the UFC 167. GSP vs Hendricks. Las Vegas. Huge PPV. Great event… and I was sat there and instead of enjoying myself I thought “Am I ever going to be part of a night like this myself again?”

I define myself as a UFC fighter. This is who I am, this is what I am. I’m 35, not 21 -- I get that, but I always thought I would make my own decision when to leave, and that day was years away yet. Also, there’s the family side of things where you want to do well and support them, and this is how I take care of them.

Slowly but surely, my eye got better and I passed test after test to prove I was good to fight. Kennedy had continued to call me out during my time off so I thought “Great, good opponent for me to come back against.” And a couple of days later, I got a bout agreement to fight him April 16.

Tim Kennedy is the perfect opponent for me right now. He’s coming off a fantastic win, a first-round KO in a main event last time out, he’s building a profile for himself, he’s carrying his part of the promotion, and it will be an exciting fight.

I’m not underestimating him at all. He’s very tenacious. He’s got a lot of heart. He’s short, squat and clearly powerful. Usually people like him, with a lot of muscle, are usually very slow but he’s fast enough. He’s a good wrestler. I don’t think he’s amazing, but he’s a good wrestler for MMA, like me. His striking is very basic, but sometimes the basic stuff works the best. He’s got a left hook which can hurt you. I expect him to throw that a lot because it got him a great KO last time.

I’ve got too much reach, too much speed and too much variety for this idiot.

And I've gone through all this crap the last six months or so, all the pain, the worrying, the surgeries, the tests, everything, to lose to this clown. I am not underestimating him, but 99 times out of 100 I give this guy a beating. My coaches Jason Perillio, Brady Fink, Jason Dallas and Gerson from Shootobox Long Beach all say I am back to my best, and am still improving.

You are going to see a fight. You are not going to see a mixed martial arts contest. I’m going to be using MMA techniques, sure, but this is going to be brutal.

Hit me up on twitter @bisping.


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