On October 26 at UFC Fight Night 30, Manchester, England’s own Michael “The Count” Bisping (24-5) plans to finish Mark Muñoz (13-3) in front of his home crowd at the Phones 4U Arena.
The arena will host the UFC’s return to Manchester, England for the first time in four years. Last time the UFC was in Manchester, Bisping defeated Denis Kang and earned Fight of the Night. The 34-year-old middleweight contender believes his return to his England will be as stunning as the last.
“I really can’t wait. I enjoy being an international fighter for the UFC, but obviously, it’s always nice to fight in front of your home crowd. I haven’t done that in several years,” Bisping said. “I haven’t fought in Manchester for four years and the support of the British people has really defined my career in some ways. I’m really excited to go back. I’m proud to be the main event. I’ve got a tough opponent in Mark Muñoz. It’s going to be a fantastic event. I can’t wait.”
For the most part, Bisping is often viewed as the antagonist heading into each fight. He’s used to blocking out boos when he steps into the Octagon. However, when he has the crowd behind him, the experience is incomparable for him.
“When the crowd is vocal and positive on your side, it clearly does help. I’ve fought three times for the UFC in England and I’ve won Fight of the Night,” said Bisping. “So, think it certainly does help. I’d love to try to channel that energy and turn it into something positive.”
Bisping has won two of his last three and is the #3 contender to the division title. At UFC on FX 7, Bisping could have earned a shot at then champion, Anderson Silva with a win over Vitor Belfort. Instead, he was knocked out with a devastating head kick in the second round. He’s since rebounded with a win over Alan Belcher.
Where his upcoming bout against the #6 ranked Muñoz is concerned, Bisping believes he’ll notch another victory and get closer to challenging for the 185-pound division title. While the fight is a little over a month away, the two opponents haven’t held anything back in the smack talk department.
Bisping took a moment to tell MMA Fight Corner that he thinks come fight time, Muñoz won’t be able to back up his words.
“We may have exchanged verbal jabs, but I tell you one thing, we won’t be exchanging physical jabs on that night. Verbal jabs are about as good as you’re going to get from Mark Muñoz because the guy couldn’t burst an egg. He couldn’t pop a wet balloon. Listen, the only thing that’s going to get popped is his head,” Bisping stated.
“He’ll look to turn it into a wrestling match and I’m going back to England to give them a good old fashioned fist fight which is what the hard working people are waiting to see. Mark Muñoz is going to come in here, he’s going to quote some self-help book. He’s going to be talking about Jesus and stuff like that. People aren’t interested in that. They want to see a fight. From me, that’s what you’re going to get. From Mark Muñoz, his best chance is at boring everybody in the arena, including me with the bulls**t that comes out of his mouth. Me, I’m looking to kick his ass as soon as that bell starts and I will prevail – believe you me.”
The most often criticized aspect of Bisping’s game has been his hands. Though he was a kickboxer first and has 14 of his 24 wins by way of (T)KO, MMA fans have been content to say “The Count” has “pillow fists”. In addition, Muñoz even used the expression in a recent interview to describe Bisping’s striking style.
“I certainly don’t have pillows for fists,” Bisping responded. “Ask any of my sparring partners. Ask any former opponent. They will all gladly tell you that I don’t have pillows for fists. And if Muñoz thinks that, I’ll take one of those pillows and knock him out.”
Additionally, Bisping believes without a doubt that there’s no chance Muñoz will look to keep the fight standing.
“As soon as that cage door shuts and the fight starts, he’s going to realize that he’s not sparring, that he’s in there with one of the best in the world and he’s going to get his ass kicked. As soon as that starts, then he’s going to go back to what he always does which is wrestling and bore everybody to death. And Donkey Kong don’t even get me started on Donkey Kong. My God, this is mixed martial arts, I refuse to lose. I refuse to even put myself in the same sentence as someone who refers to their style as Donkey Kong. I’m a mixed martial artist and that shall prevail on the night.”
After Muñoz lost to the current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, he suffered from injures that kept him from fighting for a year. During that time, Muñoz made it publicly known that he went through a period of depression. According to Bisping, that isn’t the way a warrior should respond to a loss.
“I realize that depression is a real thing and a real disease, so I’m not knocking anybody with that,” said Bisping. “Munoz was never diagnosed with depression. He wasn’t taking anti-depressants. He wanted everybody to feel sorry for him and well I’m sorry go somewhere else with your sob story. I’ve got enough problems in my own life. I don’t need yours.
“Listen, you were able to get into the UFC, you’re able to fight there and earn a living. A lot of people would give their right arm to be in that position. Don’t expect people to feel all sorry for you just because you lost a fight. That’s the way it goes,” Bisping continued. “When you win you get the glory. When you lose, you take it like a man and brush yourself off and go again. Don’t expect everybody to feel sorry for you because you can’t control yourself when it comes to the buffet.”
Weidman went on to win the UFC Middleweight Championship with his stunning knockout of Silva at UFC 162. Since Bisping lost to Belfort, he will have to yet again climb the ladder in order to get another shot.
Muñoz stated during the UFC 162 post-fight press conference after he defeated Tim Boetsch on the same fight card that he hopes to also get another shot at Weidman. First, Weidman will have to rematch Silva at UFC 168 on December 28.
Bisping believes that after he beats Muñoz in dominant fashion, that he will be next in line to fight for the belt.
“I’ll be at the same place now as I was before, right at the top of the pile ready to take the title,” Bisping said.
As for the man who currently holds the strap, Bisping thinks he will be able to dethrone him if given the chance.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing that Chris Weidman is now the middleweight champion. I really do because it’s going to make my job that much easier. I think Weidman wins the rematch. I think Weidman wins the rematch by boring everybody to death and by doing what Mark Muñoz does and cuddling Anderson to death. And then, I think I’ll take the title off of him.”
“He’s a hell of a fighter. He really is and good for him. You know, I congratulate him on his performance,” Bisping added. “He had a great first round and he made Anderson pay the price in the second round. In terms of me taking the belt, stylistically Weidman’s a better match-up for me. I’m not gonna lie. So I will be rooting for him in that match-up.
“When I take care of Muñoz, which I full intend on doing and putting an exclamation point on it, I’ll be happy to face Weidman and take that title. I believe I can beat Weidman. I think his style plays right into my hands. But obviously, I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about Mark Muñoz and destroying him in front of my home crowd.”
The middleweight tilt, Bisping vs. Muñoz will be the main event at UFC Fight Night 30 and will air on FOX Sports 2. Tickets are currently on sale via Ticketmaster.co.uk