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.”
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.”
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.