LOS ANGELES -- At 36 years old, and with two losses in his past three fights, one could be quick to conclude that Michael Bisping has given up on championship aspirations.
But don't tell that to "The Count."
The British middleweight star returns to action Saturday night, when he meets CB Dollaway in the co-main event of UFC 186 in Montreal. And the way he sees it, a victory over Dollaway will be the first step in his road back to a long-elusive UFC middleweight title shot.
"I believe 100 percent," Bisping said Monday, when asked he believes he can make a run toward Chris Weidman's belt. "I love this. I love everything about it. I love training, I love competing, I love the lifestyle, I love the sport. If I won a massive lottery tomorrow, I'd still step into the cage, because I'm a lifelong martial artist."
The Manchester, England native, who now lives in Orange County, Calif., says a recent conversation with Jason Grillo, a longtime coach of former two-weight class champion B.J. Penn, helped put things back into focus.
"I was sitting down with Jason Grillo, who was B.J.'s coach for so long," Bisping said. "And Grillo said ‘you know I was talking to B.J. last night and B.J. can't believe you're still doing this at this stage, training with all these youngsters, you're clean, you're not taking steroids.' He's asking Grillo ‘where does he get the inspiration from. I said yeah, that's easy for B.J. to say, he's a two-time world champion in two different weight classes. I haven't achieved, that, you know? That's what keeps me hungry."
The way Bisping sees it, his November loss to Luke Rockhold was as much about circumstances as anything else, and a victory of Dolloway will put him back in the picture.
"This fight is about rebounding from a loss and getting back on track," Bisping said. "After the last loss, I feel like I did well. I certainly did better than Machida did in the first round [against Rockhold]. He headbutted me and I couldn't see a damn thing, so it was circumstances. Beating CB Dolloway nice and fast, putting on a stellar performance against a top 10 foe, puts me back in the conversation."
Bisping understands that he's not getting any younger. But that's not going to step him from attempting to achieve a goal which has been just out of his grasp for years.
"I could retire now if I wanted to, you know? I have plenty of money in the bank, contrary to popular belief, I'm not a complete moron. This is what I love to do and I'm still trying to get that title shot and be champion one day. I know I can do it."