Thursday, May 27, 2010 | 11 p.m.
Michael Bisping opened up his email account recently to find yet another message from a fan directing him to a video of his knockout loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100 in July.
According to the British fighter, it's just something he's gotten used to seeing in his inbox — a friendly reminder of one of his worst moments from someone who obviously isn't a fan of his.
For whatever reason with this particular message however, Bisping decided to go ahead and press play.
What stood out to him wasn't the overhand right that ended his title contention hopes in the second round. It was his size.
"Just the other day somebody on the Internet sent a nice, little gift of me getting knocked out by Henderson," Bisping said. "I looked at it and, yeah I got knocked out, but I was shocked at how skinny I looked."
When Bisping (19-3) steps into the octagon Saturday to take on Dan Miller (11-3) in the co-main event of UFC 114 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, he'll be a monster compared to the undersized fighter he was when he met Henderson.
After dropping from the light heavyweight to the middleweight division in 2008, Bisping said he fell into the habit of overworking himself before a fight to the point he wasn't even cutting down to make weight.
That strategy often left him slightly malnourished by the time of the fight, as well as at the disadvantage of constantly fighting opponents larger than himself.
"I was so stressed out about making the weight at the start of 185 that I didn't cut weight the day of the weigh-in," Bisping said. "I'd be maybe a pound over. Now, I've got 15 pounds to cut. I used to be too small at heavyweight and then at the start of middleweight, I was so small I could have cut to 170. Now I've got it figured out."
Following the loss to Henderson, Bisping immediately started the process of adding weight to his frame and keeping it there for a fight.
In preparation for Miller, Bisping worked twice a week with a strength and conditioning coach. He also picked up new Muay Thai and wrestling coaches.
Perhaps the smartest thing he did however, was learn how to take time off — which was the main reason he was constantly undersized in the past.
"I took some time off when I needed to," Bisping said. "I've always consistently overtrained, but now I'm learning. Rampage (Quinton Jackson) used to tell me all the time, 'Mike, you train too hard.' I said, 'Nah, more is better.' Now I'm taking days off. That's the best thing I've done."
At 31 years old and further from a middleweight title shot than he was a year ago, Bisping is showing no signs of quitting on his dream to become a UFC champion.
That much is evident in his fresh and dedicated approach to Saturday's fight with Miller — that, and the fact he accepted the fight in the first place.
Bisping agreed to the fight with Miller in March, despite knowing that May 29 was around the same time his girlfriend was due to give birth to his third child.
Even knowing that signing the contract could possibly force him to miss his son's birth, Bisping didn't hesitate, as it was a big opportunity for him to fight again and on a big card.
"The due date was 13 days before the fight so it was a bit of a gamble," Bisping said. "But I wanted to fight on the same card as Rampage and I wanted to fight regularly."
Things ended up working out for Bisping, as he was able to witness the birth of his son hours before catching a flight from Manchester, England, to the U.S.
Missing out on the earliest moments of his newest child's life has been difficult for Bisping, but it was a sacrifice he's been willing to make in order to create a better life for his family and come one step closer to the title shot that seemed to be nearly his less than one year ago.
"This is how I'm giving that baby a good life down the line," Bisping said. "Yeah, I'm not there with the baby now but when I get home I'll have a long rest period where I'm there everyday."
Miller is winless in his last two trips to the octagon and knows that another loss could put his future with the UFC in jeopardy.
Although he's fighting with his back to the wall, Miller says his confidence has remained high. The two fighters he's most recently lost to, Chael Sonnen and Demian Maia, are currently at the top of the middleweight division and he feels neither of them were out of his league.
"I went into the ring with two top-quality 185 pounders, two of the best in the world, and I hung with them," Miller said. "My confidence is pretty high. I just need to get this win to really solidify everything."
Miller has shown his durability and well-roundedness but has to show he's able to put it all together against a big name opponent.
Bisping, who has outstruck opponents 400-239 during his UFC career, is known for his standup but continually has improved his ground game throughout his career and believes he should have an advantage no matter where the fight ends up.
"I think I have a big advantage in the standup department," Bisping said. "But I think I'm just as good a wrestler as him and equally dangerous on the ground."
Last Time Out:
Bisping: Unanimous decision loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110.
Miller: Unanimous decision loss to Demian Maia at UFC 109.
The Lines: Bisping, minus-190; Miller, plus-160
Bisping: "I've kind of given up. I just always be myself. To be honest, I don't see what the problem is. You know what, if they boo me and hate me that's fine. I don't lose any sleep at night. At first, I didn't like it but now I embrace it. They're not going to like me when I kick the (expletive) out of this guy Saturday night."
Miller: On wanting to get back into action quickly after a close loss. "If I could have, I would have fought the next week (after losing to Maia). Other than my thumb I came out of that fight pretty healthy."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.