NEW YORK – “You’re getting your ass kicked on Saturday night, bro,” Michael Bisping spat at Alan Belcher after squaring off following a pre-event media day for UFC 159.
“You’re getting knocked out,” Belcher replied.
“Oh yeah, we’ll see about that won’t we,” Bisping continued. “Slap that stupid look off your face.”
Belcher wore a big grin.
With precise comedic timing, UFC President Dana White interjected: “That’s it. We’re good.”
It’s not the first time Bisping (23-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) has gotten heated at a press event or a weigh-in. UFC operations guru Burt Watson hardly looked surprised by Bisping’s outburst. White kept his arms between the fighters, but didn’t seem seriously concerned they might fight right there.
It’s become a trademark of Bisping fights to hear one last verbal tirade before he steps into the cage, and Belcher (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) appeared well-prepared for it.
Moments earlier, he admitted he was over his rivalry with the Brit, which has dominated interviews about their co-main event fight at UFC 159 on Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
“I’m kind of bored with it, and I’m ready to fight on Saturday night,” he said.
Several months ago, that wasn’t the case. Belcher felt he was lacking the fire he brought to previous fights, and it set him back from a title shot against dominant middleweight champ Anderson Silva when he lost a rematch this against Yushin Okami at UFC 155.
Getting the brash Bisping to fight him seemed the perfect solution to finding the passion he needed in the gym. So rather than take time off to regroup in the gym and improve his technique, he campaigned for a quick turnaround against the Brit, whom he said he had unsuccessfully called out for years before finally being noticed.
With a training camp now behind him, he believes he made the right choice.
“I feel like I haven’t performed up to my best potential, and I think getting a little angry or emotional will help me out,” he said. “I’ve trained harder than I’ve ever trained for this fight right here.”
Now, Belcher is concerned with rescuing his chances to fight Silva, who is next scheduled to fight Chris Weidman at UFC 162. The winner of Saturday’s bout will stay in the mix of contenders while the loser might never get a chance to fight the pound-for-pound best.
“This is one where I need to have a great performance to stay in there if I want a title shot any time in the near future,” he said.
And with just two days left until he steps into the octagon, Belcher has shut Bisping out of his head. This past week during a media teleconference, he elected not to return fire when insulted by “The Count.”
Bisping didn’t rattle him in person, either. He’s already gotten what he needed. Bisping, he said, might still be trying to fire himself up.
“All the pressure is on Mike,” Belcher said. “He’s the favorite, and he’s ranked higher than I am. He needs this worse than I do.”
For more on UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.