Thursday, July 9, 2009 | 2:13 a.m.
- Complete UFC 100 coverage
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- St. Pierre dominant despite injury
- UFC co-owner addresses fans at Expo
- Love story leads to UFC
- Lesnar wins, puts on WWE-style show afterward
- Win or lose — Mir a class act
- 702.tv: All-In: UFC 100
- Punchy Points: Key aspects about UFC 100
- Interactive Timeline: UFC Countdown: 1 to 100
You wouldn’t think that a man with a 18-1 MMA record, a United Kingdom fan base that rivals that of Ricky Hatton and a family ancestry that traces back to royalty would have any trouble earning respect.
And yet, somehow, Michael Bisping says he does.
“I don’t get the respect I deserve,” said Bisping, who will face Dan Henderson at UFC 100. “So I’m looking forward to going into this fight and taking my respect. I certainly don’t see myself as the underdog. I see Henderson as the underdog. And Saturday, I’ll show the world why.”
Las Vegas books have opened with Bisping as a little more than a 2-to-1 dog to Henderson. Both fighters will be battling a long layoff, coming off of coaching stints on the latest season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The rivalry between the two coaches was relatively tame throughout the reality television series. However as the fight draws nearer, that hasn’t been the case.
Most notably, Bisping didn’t appreciate Henderson publicly calling him a derogatory name or hinting that Bisping needed to work on his cardio before fighting him.
“On the show, everything was pretty civilized,” Bisping said. “I tried winding him up a little bit. Nothing personal...He didn’t bat. He was a very laid back guy and not a bad fellow.
“Now he’s said a few things about me. I think he’s disrespected me a little bit, disrespected my skills and my previous opponents, so I’m going to teach him a lesson Saturday night.”
In addition to the hype of a TUF coaches’ battle, the UFC has informed both fighters that the winner will be next in line as top contender to current middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
In the 30-year-old Bisping’s case, a title shot would finally earn him the respect and spotlight he says he’s ready for. For Henderson, 38, it would be a chance to further his legacy.
“Winning a title is still one of my goals, I definitely don’t want to fall short of that goal before I’m done fighting,” Henderson said. “I know that I probably have less years in the sport than a lot of these younger guys. It makes it more vital that I win every fight.”
Despite the title shot incentive, for a fight that at once seemed to be about rewards and not rivalry, it’s clear these two won’t be going for a beer any time soon.
“He is who he is; he’s not a bad person,” Henderson said. “He probably talks more than most that I’ve fought.”
Bisping is the smoother standup fighter and, although he’s never won by submission in the UFC, won a silver medal in the 1995 world jiu-jitsu championships. His biggest advantage will be when the fight is on their feet. Bisping also avoids trouble well, as he's never been stopped in his career.
“I think he’s a talented fighter, I need to be ready to go in all aspects of MMA,” Henderson said. “He’s going to come out punching and he’s shown good takedown defense. It’s going to be a tough fight.”
Henderson is a two-time U.S. Olympic wrestler which will give him an obvious advantage on the ground. He may grind Bisping against the cage and work his ground and pound, much like he did in his last fight with Rich Franklin. His right hand is a well-known dangerous hand around the fighting world.
“He’s obviously a two-time Olympian, but I feel like I’ve addressed that problem,” Bisping said. “If he takes me down I’m going to get straight back up. He’s going to try and put me on my [expletive]. That’s fine, because as soon as that clinch breaks, I’m going to be ready and he’s going to be eating some leather.”
Last Time Out:
Henderson: Split decision win over Rich Franklin at UFC 93 on Jan. 17.
Bisping: Unanimous decision win over Chris Leben at UFC 89 on Oct. 18, 2008.
The Lines: Henderson -260, Bisping +210
Henderson: “I’m definitely going to try and finish him. Of course I try to finish everybody, but I definitely want to knock out Michael Bisping.”
Bisping: “I’m fighting in a few days and right now, I hate the guy. I’m going to kill him – that’s going to be a good quote in there, ‘I’m going to kill him.’ [Laughing] I didn’t mean it like that.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.