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UFC 105:

Michael Bisping’s road to redemption

Bisping says he’s moved on from loss, confident in moving forward

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Justin M. Bowen

Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping battle in their fight at UFC 100 Saturday at Mandalay Bay. Henderson won with a second-round knockout.

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Michael Bisping says he can’t quite put his finger on it — but something just didn’t feel right when he stepped into the Octagon to face Dan Henderson at UFC 100 in July.

And when everything isn’t feeling right against a guy like Henderson, bad things are bound to happen.

“When we started fighting, my timing just seemed off. It all wasn’t flowing right,” said Bisping, who ended up being knocked out by a brutal right hand from Henderson in the second round. “Obviously, I was fighting a great opponent. So I’m sure that had something to do with it.

“But my mind just wasn’t right.”

That is exactly what Bisping (18-2) has been telling reporters this week as he prepares for his middleweight fight with Denis Kang at UFC 105 in Manchester, England, on Saturday.

He said it’s possible he was thrown off by fighting so early on the televised card, after many of his previous fights came late in the night. He also admits he over-trained and may have been rusty from a nine-month layoff he spent filming "The Ultimate Fighter."

He mentions these things, but not to use them as excuses. What it really comes down to for Bisping is that it just wasn’t his night.

Sometimes, it’s that simple.

“Fighting is different than other sports because you’re not competing as regularly,” Bisping said. “If a football player has a bad game, he’s allowed to do that because he plays once or twice a week. With fighting, it’s once every few months.

“So if you have a bad night, it gets built up.”

Not to say that Bisping won’t acknowledge his disappointment with how things went.

Immediately following the loss, Bisping made a quick trip to the hospital before returning to his hotel room.

After ordering food and a few drinks there, his girlfriend and team members lifted Bisping’s spirits enough to allow him to enjoy his last moments in Las Vegas before returning home.

“We talked about the fight. Everybody talked about how they thought it went,” Bisping said. “Then everyone said, ‘OK, that’s done and we can’t change it now.’ I hadn’t seen my family in a long time, so we went out and had a good time.”

After returning from the states, Bisping traveled to Malaysia on a trip he had scheduled before the fight to see his girlfriend’s parents.

Away from every mixed martial arts blog and forum, Bisping was actually able to move on from the poor showing at UFC 100 faster than the rest of the world.

“It was a kind of a good thing to do in a way,” Bisping said. “I went to the other side of the world where no one gives a damn about MMA. I stayed off the computer, didn’t listen to the negative things.

“When I got there at first I was feeling very sorry for myself. By the time I got back, I was fully charged and ready to tackle the world again.”

To prepare for Kang, Bisping brought in a new arrangement of sparring partners, including accomplished Canadian wrestlers and top European kickboxers.

And while many would probably rank his standup as already superior to Kang’s, Bisping, with the knockout still hiding somewhere in the back of his mind, requested some of England’s top boxers, too.

“I wanted to work with several professional boxers that fight in England,” Bisping said. “Obviously, my last fight was the knockout, so I wanted to get pushed in the standup area as much as possible.”

It’s a sign that although Bisping has recovered from the disappointment of the loss and is confident he will deliver a win to his home crowd on Saturday, the first man to have ever succeeded in knocking him out hasn’t completely faded from his memory.

News of Henderson’s potential departure to Strikeforce after sour contract negotiations with UFC President Dana White have even enticed Bisping to follow the MMA Internet sites again.

“I’ve heard that and I can’t comment too much on it because I don’t know how much money Dan is asking for,” Bisping said. “But as far as him leaving the UFC, I really hope he doesn’t.

“At some point, I feel like I want to fight him again. That was the first fight I’ve ever been stopped and I want to make up for that and prove something to myself and my coaches. Some people say I didn’t take that fight seriously, which is absolute nonsense. We were all confident going into that fight, and I really am pursuing a rematch.”

His renewed focus on preparing for Kang and desire to someday meet up again with Henderson should let fans in on a little secret.

Because while the majority of Saturday’s audience will be waiting to see if Bisping can move on from what happened in July, the fact is that he already has.

“It’s not like my career is in shatters. I’m 18-2,” Bisping said. “The two guys I’ve lost to are former champions. There’s no shame in that. I do feel pressure in wanting to come back and perform, but it’s not like I’m finished as some people seem to think.

“It’s going to take more than one loss for me to hang up my gloves; that’s for sure.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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