(Michael Bisping stops Denis Kang in his last homeland outing)
Michael “The Count” Bisping has never been short of support in all of the years he’s been fighting inside the UFC’s Octagon and he’s predicting that tonight won’t be any different. Going from being a relatively unknown TUF winner to an MMA superstar here in the UK means that any time he now steps into the cage, he’ll have support. However, when it’s in the UK he knows he can count on the thousands in attendance to rally him on.
“Ultimately, when you fight here it’s just you, your opponent and the referee but it does spur you on,” the Brit noted at Thursday’s pre-fight conference. “The reception I get is always unbelievable and I never prepare for that or expect it, but it sends my adrenaline crazy and I’m sure it does help me on the night.”
It was evident the last time the company were in the UK eleven long months ago when he came back from the brink to defeat Denis Kang in the second round of their clash. After being rocked early on, Bisping proved that he had the minerals to come back and there’s no doubt the partisan crowd were a factor, as well as his own heart, desire and resilience.
Although he has two losses in his last four outings, the Brit comes into this battle with Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama with a world of confidence. A convincing win over Dan Miller set him back on the right track after he dropped a razor thin decision to the legendary Pride FC champion Wanderlei Silva, and now he’s sure that he can get back to the aggression that made him a fan favourite and race towards that title:
“I think I’ve got what it takes to become world champion and I’m pushing for that. I feel like I’m maturing as a fighter and that’s why I wanted to thank my team and my coaches because it’s all there now and I think it’s mine for the taking.
“If you look at my earlier fights, I was always going forward but I think I fought a string of wrestlers back to back and that had me subconsciously pulling away from my punches a little bit. But I’ve adjusted and I’m planting my feet more. There’s no doubt about it, the power is there.”
You can expect to see Bisping pushing the pace when he meets Judo-stylist Akiyama tonight after consciously trying to revert back from matchups that admittedly turned him into a counter fighter. He admits that “he’s got his hands full” but the Bisping we saw unleash hell on the likes of Charles McCarthy, Jason Day and Josh Haynes could be making a reappearance at the O2 arena tonight.
For him, it’s more of a case of imposing his own will than worrying about Akiyama’s, despite his training with the renowned and elite Greg Jackson camp.
“I couldn’t care less where he trains. Experience has taught me that I need to focus on what I need to do. I’ve got a great camp and coaches and we concentrate on that. Where he’s training, who he’s training with, how he’s training; I couldn’t care less.”
Akiyama is a threat in all areas and represents a game adversary that can fight at all ranges, but Bisping has prepared for all eventualities and it means the headline bout tonight should have the record crowd in attendance on their feet and in voice.