Tag Archives: Michael Bisping

Bring on Bisping, says Bellew

Boxing and UFC could be on for another high-profile showdown after Tony Bellew and UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping agreed on Twitter to go head to head 

While there are plenty of questions to be answered over how and under what rules the fight could actually happen, Bellew says he is not afraid of entering the UFC world.

The Liverpudlian is currently fully focused on his rematch against David Haye at London’s O2 Arena on December 17, whilst Bisping is preparing to fight Georges St Pierre at Madison Square Garden on November 4. 

But Bellew, the WBC emeritus world cruiserweight champion, still has fellow Briton Bisping in his sights.

“Michael [Bisping] wants to fight me in a boxing ring, which would be absolutely ridiculous,” he told me. “I do not want to render someone unconscious in 20 seconds. That does not appeal to me.”

Advantage

Around the time of the year’s most talked-about fight, when unbeaten multiple world champion Floyd Mayweather boxed UFC’s Conor McGregor in Las Vegas in August, Bellew met with the owners of the UFC and let them know he means business.

‘I would wrestle with Michael Bisping all day long. It would not be an issue. It would not be a problem’ – Tony Bellew

“If you are paying, I’m playing. If he wants to do it, I’ll do it. I was willing to go in a cage,” said the 34-year-old, who stopped Haye in 11 rounds last March.

“I met with some of the guys from the UFC while in Vegas, but not with Dana [White, President of the UFC] personally. I met with the owners of the UFC [WME-IMG, owners of the UFC]. They say to me ‘Are you serious, would you get in a cage?’ and I said ‘I would strangle Michael Bisping in a cage’.”

Bellew’s supreme confidence stems in part from his size advantage.

“I fight at 200lbs usually. I’m not stupid. I couldn’t play with Jon Jones [UFC light heavyweight champion]. The guy would choke me and pull one of my arms out within seconds. But If I was to get in the octagon with Michael Bisping at 185lbs… he ain’t beating me in the octagon or a boxing ring.

“How is he going to beat me? What’s he known for? A fantastic cardiovascular system. He’s a running machine. He’s got amazing cardio. He outworks guys. He sometimes outstrikes guys.

“His strength is his work rate. His strength isn’t wrestling or jiu-jitsu. I would wrestle with Michael Bisping all day long. It would not be an issue. It would not be a problem.”

Opening

Bisping, 38, was famously knocked out by MMA veteran Dan Henderson back in 2009. It is one of the most famous highlight reel KOs in MMA and UFC history. But Bellew promised to deliver a better finish should the opportunity present itself.

“You think the Henderson knockout that he received was bad? Mine would be twice as bad. He would be out for a good 10 minutes, not 10 seconds,” said former WBC world cruiserweight champion.

In reality, a fight between the two is a long way off and, at this point, almost impossible to make.

But if there’s an opening and the money as well as the timing is right, Bellew says he will do it in 2018.

“If the UFC/IMG show me same digits as boxing, I would go into the cage happily,” he stated.

The rise and rise of UFC

Once seen as a brutal, bloody and barbaric sport with murky if not borderline illegal ‘cage fighting’ origins, UFC is now watched by millions around the world.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship was devised to discover the most effective martial art in bouts with minimal rules between competitors from different combat disciplines, and is now the face of mixed martial arts (MMA) — a term first used by TV critic Howard Rosenberg after UFC 1 in 1993.

“23 years after its inaugural event at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, UFC has evolved into a global phenomenon”

Since then, UFC has become the largest promotion company in MMA, absorbing rivals such as Pride, World Extreme Cagefighting, Strikeforce and the International Fight League in the process.

Some 23 years after its inaugural event at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, UFC has evolved into a global phenomenon, sweeping across the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe on its journey to becoming the sporting powerhouse we know it as today.

So why is UFC becoming such a big thing in the UK?

UFC roster

From better accessibility to promotion via social media, there are various explanations to why UFC is gaining more recognition in the UK. But the roster of the number one MMA promotion, ultimately, represents its largest pull.

In recent years, the likes of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, have all produced jaw-dropping moments in the most incredible of fights to help put UFC and MMA on the map.

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Likewise, UFC’s roster of exceptional female fighters, which includes Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg to name a few, has also been good advertisement for the brand and sport.

However, two fighters in particular stand out from the rest as individuals who are heavily responsible for UFC’s growth in popularity both in the UK – Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping.

McGregor

McGregor is largely considered right now as one of the best fighters in the UFC and arguably the MMA promotions’ most popular figure among fans.

“McGregor’s behaviour outside the Octagon has helped him transform into a fighter that even non-UFC fans want to follow”

Dublin-born McGregor made his UFC debut in 2013 against Marcus Brimage, instantly making a name for himself after knocking out the American in the first round.

The 28-year-old has since elevated himself to the top of the UFC, reigning as the UFC featherweight champion and featuring in several of UFC’s most viewed fights of all-time.

UFC 194: Aldo v McGregor, UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz and UFC 202: Diaz v McGregor 2, rank as three out of the four most sold UFC pay-per-view cards ever, showing the pulling power the Irishman has brought to Dana White’s organisation.

©Wikimedia Commons

McGregor’s record of 20 wins and three losses, which includes a UFC featherweight championship victory over Aldo after a record (13 seconds) title fight first-round knockout, shows how good a fighter he is and why everyone is eager to watch him in action.

But the fighting skills of ‘The Notorious’ are not the only draw.

McGregor’s behaviour outside the Octagon has helped him transform into a fighter that even non-UFC fans want to follow.

His arrogant persona, X-rated rants and often amusing social media posts, grab the attention of many and sway them towards taking an interest in his career.

Bisping

In addition to McGregor, Bisping, who successfully defended his UFC middleweight championship against Dan Henderson at UFC 204, has played a huge part in helping UFC to increase its fanbase in the UK, having been raised in Manchester.

©Wikimedia Commons: Michael Bisping(L)

But as well as influencing fans, MMA writer Nick Strickland also believes Bisping has had a huge impact on UK-based MMA fighters and has opened a gateway for them as a result of his success.

“I think without Bisping the UK scene and the fighters would not have been given the right opportunities to fight around the world,” Strickland said.

“I’m not saying the other fighters are not good enough and would not have made it, but it was Bisping who brought the attention to the United Kingdom.

“He opened the doors for all the UK fighters as we all saw when he coached in the Ultimate Fighter: Team UK vs. Team USA, a show that was dominated by the UK athletes.”

Other promotions

Thanks to fighters such as McGregor and Bisping, UFC has made its mark in the UK, but Strickland suggests there’s also room for other MMA promotions to gain an audience.

“They [UFC] usually hold about 90% of the talent right now but saying that Bellator MMA has a phenomenal roster of fighters who could give UFC fighters a run for their money on any given day,” the MMA writer said.

“Local shows are where the talent is grown so promotions like Cage Warriors, UCMMA and now ACB Fighting League are super important for the growth of the sport here and around the world. Either one of these promotions, with the right roster of fighters and shows could make its mark in the UK market.”

Since 2009, UFC programming has reached over 1.1 billion television households across the world, according to Forbes.

And while it may not yet be able to produce a fight that could match the viewing figures of a Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao or potential Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko bout in boxing, UFC’s popularity continues to grow within the UK and around the rest of the world.

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