With all kinds of focus on the UFC 159 main event between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping steered attention toward the co-feature in a big way.
With many observers wondering what might come next from Sonnen in terms of pre-fight hype, given his propensity for colorful promotion and entertaining speeches, he played the role of complimentary opponent during a Monday call with media members.
But bringing his A game in the talk department was Bisping, who helped increase the level of interest in his fight with Alan Belcher with a mid-call rant.
Bisping (23-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Belcher (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) meet in the co-main event of UFC 159, which takes place Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
After Belcher responded to a question asking what a win would do for him, Bisping interjected to let the media know he doesn’t see a Belcher win being something that needs to be worried about.
“Let me just add to that,” Bisping said. “A win over me for Alan Belcher will be by far the biggest win of his pathetic career. There you go. No one gives a s— about Alan Belcher.”
When Belcher reminded the Brit that meant he better not lose, Bisping was quick to fire off another shot.
“Hey, bro – I ain’t going to lose to you, man,” Bisping said. “It’s in the bag. It’s a formality. I’ve just got to show up, slap your little face, take my check and go home.”
With much of the focus of the call on Jones-Sonnen, the Bisping-Belcher exchange was short, but sweet.
Belcher said the talk from Bisping, which has grown over the past several weeks leading up to the fight to Monday’s call, at its highest pitch so far, has him amped up.
“It is emotional for me, and that’s when I perform at my highest,” Belcher said. “I have the most pressure on me – I’m the most nervous for this fight ever. The only fights that I’ve ever lost are the fights that I wasn’t very excited for. So this one, I want it worse than any fight in my whole career and I’m focused on it and I’ll perform at my highest.”
Bisping and Belcher both are coming off losses, and Bisping has dropped two of his past three with losses to Sonnen and Vitor Belfort sandwiched around a win over Brian Stann this past September. Belcher lost to Yushin Okami in December to have a four-fight win streak snapped.
And even though Bisping has lobbed some insults Belcher’s way, he still acknowledges that a win over him helps get him back into title contention. Bisping is ranked No. 6 is the latest USA TODAY/MMAjunkie.com rankings, while Belcher is 13. The two are No. 4 and 10, respectively, in the UFC’s rankings.
“I’m a natural competitor,” Bisping said. “A win over Alan Belcher puts me back in the win column. It’s a win over a top 10 opponent. And it gets me back in the mix for the title shot. That’s what I want. And as long as there’s life in my body, I will continue to try and get that title shot. I want to be the world champion.”
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(Pictured: Michael Bisping)