Is fighting in front of the hometown fans an advantage or curse?
Taking that a step further, which will it be for Michael Bisping when he takes on Chris "The Crippler" Leben at UFC 89 in front of a Birmingham, England crowd?
When asked how Bisping's home field advantage might affect him, Leben turned the tables on the question. "You know I think it's going to affect Mike, not me. I mean. . . he's the one in you know in the home land with you know with all his friends and all his family and the pressure's really on him... I just show up, I roll into town and come fight night, I just have to look to perform."
Leben's words might lead one to believe that for Bisping this is more than just a fight. But not if you ask the man that trains out of Wolfslair Academy. Along with this, when Bisping was asked if it was distracting fighting at home, he said that it wasn't because he lived in a small town (Quidrov) that really doesn't allow a spotlight to be placed on him. That said, he did acknowledge the following:
"When I go out of town and into the cities and things? then yes, I suppose that happens (distractions). But I don't really do that, especially when I'm training for a fight. I get up, I go to the gym, I train, and I come home. You know, so on the day to day basis, I don't see too much of that. So to answer your question, no, there's not many distractions."
But Bisping only spoke of pre-fight issues. How about at the fight when thousands of people, several of which he knows, show up expecting a great victory? Will the hometown crowd offer him an energy rush at the fight? No doubt about it. Will his ability to stay home and train for the entire main event bout be beneficial? Impossible for it to hurt.
Still... The pressure to win in front of friends and family can be motivating, but it can also lead to a psyche prone to making mistakes. A fighter might press. They might fatigue looking for a highlight reel knockout or submission early. They just might do things they wouldn't normally do.
Michael Bisping may just use the English crowd to his advantage as Frank Shamrock did when he took on Phil Baroni in his hometown of San Jose. But then again, he might not. The pressure to win, with a future title shot possibly in store, would've been great already. But fighting for yourself is one thing. Fighting for an entire country is something quite different.
Bisping has already done it three times support of the UFC in the UK, but this will be his first main event. Here's looking forward to seeing how Bisping responds.