It didn't take long Monday for longtime UFC middleweight star Michael Bisping to remind everyone that although he was on the sidelines the past several months recovering from eye surgery, his mouth has continued along at 100 percent.
Bisping has taken exception to the words of his April 16th opponent, Tim Kennedy, who all but goaded him into accepting the bout. So on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, the bombastic Brit fired back, insinuating Kennedy is more of a poser than a fighter.
"I think Tim Kennedy more concerned with his image, to be honest," Bisping said, "and selling stupid t-shirts and he can tell his friends ‘I'm badass, I'm Special Forces and now I'm in the UFC and I'm a fighter.' For me, it's not about that, it's a way of life and you'll see the difference when we step in the Octagon."
Bisping grew up in an English military family and respects the people who serve in the Armed Forces, but the way Bisping sees it, he's a fighter first and foremost, while Kennedy is only secondarily a martial artist.
"Tim Kennedy's first career, and this is great for him, I'm not knocking it in any way shape or form, good for him, he's a military man," Bisping said. "I was born on a military base, come from a military family, I almost went into the military. I didn't go into the military. My first choice of my line of work was to become a fighter, because I'm a martial artist and I've been a martial artist since I was eight years old and it was in my blood and it always has been. Tim Kennedy joined the military, and good for him, and he's come out of the military, he wants to be a badass, he wants to tweet about it constantly, all the stupid kind of nonsense."
Kennedy, who has won five of his past six fights, successfully baited Bisping into the bout by calling him out on social media. Bisping admits he let Kennedy get under his skin.
"He said a few things that pissed me off, but I never actually met the guy," Bisping said. "He could be a good, solid guy for all I know. But if someone is going to continue to take shots at me in the media, that's going to start to grate on me after awhile, and he's doing that."
And why is that? Well, Kennedy has called Bisping a dirty fighter, an accusation to which he objects.
"He said a few things about me personally, he said a few things about my fighting," Bisping said. "He's just constantly talking s---, that I'm a dirty fighter, I'm disrespectful, I disrespect the sport, this and that. When you're going to fight a guy, you've got to watch tapes of him. For him to call me a dirty fighter is just ridiculous, because, in between falling asleep when I'm watching his fights, because he's extremely boring, there's plenty of eye pokes and kicks to the balls in there, so if anyone is a dirty fighter, it's the pot calling the kettle black."
Of course, for Bisping, getting called out is nothing new. Between Bisping's high profile and his willingness to engage in trash talk, aspiring middleweight contenders know they can raise their profile by getting Bisping's attention.
"I've been around a long time, I'm never shy about saying what's on my mind, and sometimes they want to fight me for that reason," Bisping said. "Other times, I've been around the UFC a long, long time and they'll get a bit of recognition from that. Other times, it could be a case of do you want to climb that ladder and it's a logical next matchup. There's many different reasons. ... Listen, when I beat Tim Kennedy I'm calling out the winner of [Lyoto] Machida and [Chris] Weidman, I want to beat the champion. I never understand why you call out the No. 4 guy. If you in that position, why do you call out the No. 4 guy? Call out the goddamn champion."
In a way, though, Bisping has to feel fortunate he's still in position to get called out. Bisping, whose last fight was a win over Alan Belcher at UFC 159, has since been through surgery due to a detached retina. He's willing to admit there were some scary moments along the way.
"I was never giving up," Bisping said. "But certainly there was some doubt there. When the retina detached the second time, it was tough to deal with and I kind of wondered if it would ever be right again. I remember Dana he called me after my second surgery, and he said I was talking to your doctor, have you to talked to him? I said no and he said give me the lowdown. You won't fight in Manchester, which was obviously a big blow, and then he followed it up with you may never fight again. That was a hard day. Someone like me, I'm rarely lost for words, I was certainly lost for words that day. I love being a part of this, I love being a part of the UFC, I'm truly passionate about it. To make a living out of it is the icing on the cake."
Meanwhile, Bisping has watched with interest as events have unfolded in Nevada, where Vitor Belfort pulled out of his UFC 173 title shot against Weidman after the state banned the use of testosterone replacement therapy in combat sports and on the heels of Belfort taking an out-of-competition drug test, the results of which have not been disclosed.
"You know, I'm not an FBI agent," Bisping said. "But I'm assuming he failed that test, he can't get licensed in Nevada, and therefore the UFC can't promote that fight. Call me stupid but that's what I'd go out on a limb and say what happened."
"I had three title eliminators, all to guys on TRT," Bisping said. "I wish I could have had a bit of TRT. But you know, I do it the old fashioned way, through hard work and determination. I can look at myself in the mirror and I can sleep at night knowing I did it the old fashioned way."