The talk of when or even if long-time UFC middleweight contender Michael Bisping would receive a title shot came to an end on Wednesday when he was selected to fill in for Chris Weidman opposite Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 on June 4. The opportunity is everything Bisping has fought for, but comes on short notice at a time when he's in Canada filming a movie. In addition, it's against an opponent he's fought and lost to, a second-round stoppage loss in 2014.
Yet, 'The Count' accepted the opportunity when the UFC's first choice for Weidman's fill in, Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza, was unable to obtain a medical clearance.
In this interview with Bisping conducted on Wednesday on SiriusXM's The Luke Thomas Show, the U.K. representative reflected on his time spent trying to secure a title shot, the challenges of working on short notice, why Weidman continues to be injured and so much more.
Congratulations on getting the fight. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling very, very excited. Very positive. There is some mixed emotions in there as well. Obviously, I've wanted a world title fight my entire life and then, here we are. It would've been nice to have it with a full training camp, but screw it. You get these opportunities thrown your way, you gotta make the most out of it. That's what I intend to do.
i've got just under three weeks of intense training. I know I can get ready. I know I can be almost there. I'm confident.
Listen, I've fought this guy before. It didn't go my way. I've sparred him in training. It definitely went my way that time. I was doing good in the first fight. He caught me with a head kick. God bless him. That's the way this thing goes. Like, it only takes one shot.
I know he'll be ready to compete. He's very, very good, but my coach actually believes that given the shorter training camp, he actually thinks that'll be beneficial. He thinks I won't over analyze it. I won't overtrain. I'm just going to go out there and do my best.
Any concerns making weight might be an issue?
Yeah, for sure, there is some concerns there. I know I can make weight, but it's going to be tough. Definitely. It's a short-notice fight. I've got two and a half weeks, but I'm not a million miles away. I think I'm around 208 [pounds], 209. So, I can do it. I'm going to diet like a madman. I've gotta train. I've gotta do some things, but it is doable.
If I didn't lose any weight right now, I would have to do a 24-pound weight cut, which I'm not going to do, but you've heard people do that before. So, if I lose two pounds this week or three pounds this week, I'll train all the way up to Saturday. I'll rest Sunday. If I lose three pounds, then I can lose four pounds next week, that's seven pounds. I'll be just over the 200-pound limit. It's doable, but it's going to be miserable.
You won The Ultimate Fighter 3 in June of 2006. Here we are June in 2016 and you're getting your UFC title shot, a decade in the making. Is there something magical about that timeline?
To be honest, I'm not a deep, spiritual person. Things have been happening in my life recently where I've started to think, 'Maybe things do happen for a reason.' I ways given this opportunity and I'm going to take it. I plan on going out there and winning, believe you me.
I believe it's my destiny. I believe this is all going to add to the story. It's going to make it a much bigger storyline. I'm going to go out there, I'm going to make history. I'm going to become the first world champion to come from the U.K. I'm going to do after almost the 10-year anniversary of getting into the UFC. I believe it's my time.
Listen, I'll put it like this. If people can walk around - and I don't mean this in a disrespectful way to religious people - and you believe the son of God came down to earth 2,000 years ago, and he killed himself for our sins, and he can walk on water, and there's a God up there looking after ourselves, and if you get on your knees and pray to him that things will change, if you can believe that, then you can believe that I can knock the f--k out of Luke Rockhold two weeks from Saturday.
In terms of the last decade, you've had moments where you surged, but it was followed by setback. Was there ever real doubt the title shot would never come?
For sure there was doubt there, 100 percent. That's why I've got to take this title shot. That's why I put my name into the mix. Jacare was ahead of me. I don't know, I've been here for so long, I felt like I was never going to get my shot. Whichever it came around, here we go.
Is it perfect? No. Would I have liked more time? Yes. Am I going to go out there and fight with everything I've got? Absolutely. I'm going to take this opportunity and I'm going to make the most out of it. I'm going to take that belt. I'm going to be the champion. I'm going to stick it to everybody that doubted me throughout my career.
To answer your question, yeah, there was doubt. Of course there was doubt, but the fact of the matter remains is that I'll be signing the bout agreement very soon to be the next challenger for the 185 belt.
Another caller made a point that while you lost to Rockhold previously and your camp is short, you're not fighting someone you're unfamiliar with. There's a benefit to that. Do you share that analysis?
Absolutely. I'm not making excuses. Good for him and I mean that wholeheartedly. He beat me fair and square and good for him.
But I'll tell you this, in that fight, I felt very comfortable up until that head kick connected, of course. In this first round, I was doing very good. I was faster than him. He connected a couple of times, but I didn't really feel any power. I wasn't like, 'Holy crap! I've got to watch out because that was insane!' He tried to take me down. He didn't feel particularly strong. I know he's technically very good, but I've been in there with him. I've felt him. I've sparred him for five rounds once, and I whooped his ass there.
I know what I'm expecting. I know what I'm getting myself into. Is he going to have better cardio than me on that night? Of course, he is. At the end of the day, he's a human being. I'm going to go forward and I'm going to fight with everything I've got. No one's got more heart than me.
Listen, I'm going to take this guy out of there. I'm not going out there to fight five rounds. If I try that, I lose. I'm not going to have the conditioning. Believe you me, I've stopped guys in the first round plenty of times before, albeit earlier in my career. I'm going to go back to that animalistic fighting style, which I have inside me. I'm going to go out on my sword and I tell you what, I'm going to give it everything I've got. Luke Rockhold better be ready.
What do you feel like went wrong in your first meeting with him?
What can you say? The kid was good. He caught me with the head kick. He head butted me in the first round. That opened up a deep gash and blood was pouring into my eyes, so that was very distracting. Then he kicked me in the head. That's what went wrong. I got kicked in the head. What can I say? Hopefully this time I don't get kicked in the head quite so hard.
What do you make of Chris Weidman suffering so many injuries and fight cancellations so often?
I have no idea. Only Chris Weidman can answer those questions. I have zero relationship with Chris. He hasn't had nice things to say about me over the years. I'll say this: Chris Weidman seems like a decent individual and he's a hell of a fighter. He really is, but he's out of the equation right now.
You've got to want this. I want this. I'm not saying Chris doesn't want it, but you make it happen. You make it happen, of course you do. He's out of the equation.
Jacare's out of the equation. I think he's having his balls lopped off. He's talking about title shots. Here it is, for the taking. Do you not think I have a bad knee? I've torn my posterior cruciate ligament four days before the final of The Ultimate Fighter and decided not to do surgery. My knee hurts every time I take a step. It clicks like hell every time I walk down stairs, after every training session it's agony. I have to ice it every single day, but I want to fight. I want to be the champion. You make these sacrifices. Jacare wouldn't do it, Chris pulled out, everyone else is testing positive for steroids. Here we are, it's me and I'm going to make the most of it.
Chronic injuries aside, you must be, relatively speaking, injury free, right?
For sure, and this is the thing. It's gonna be a short camp, but my boxing coach Jason Parillo truly believes that this will be beneficial. Yes, the longer the camp, the better shape you can get in, an easier cut and all that side of things. But the mental side of the fight game is the most important side. It's the most important aspect and as fight camps go on, you can over analyze things. You can look at your opponent, you can worry yourself, you can over train. You can do all these different things.
I haven't got time to do any of that. I've got to lose some weight, I've got to do some runs, I've got to spar a little bit. I'm not even going to spar that much because I don't want to get banged up. I've got two weeks. I'm going to get my cardio through the roof, I'm going to do a little bit of sparring, but I'm going to keep everything super light. I'm going to go out there, be light on my toes, I'm going to be faster on my feet and we'll see what happens, but there is some positives for sure.
There are some folks who have wondered why Uriah Hall or Gegard Mousasi didn't get the call. To that you say what?
I say Uriah Hall just got beat by Robert Whittaker. So, come on, let's be honest. Uriah Hall is a very capable guy. I'm not saying that he's not, but he's lost fights to very average competition. I've only lost to the best of the best. I'm coming off a three-fight win streak against three very good opponents.
Mousasi, yeah, sure. Mousasi's a hell of a fighter. World class, for sure. Just had a good win over Thales Leites. I could understand that. I could, but one thing he does lack is a little bit of star power. At the end of the day, it is a business. From a business perspective, I certainly made more sense.
How busy are you going to be on social media having a go at Luke Rockhold?
Right now, I'm still just trying to come back down to earth because I just found out about it a few hours ago, just like everybody else. I was walking into a gym and then I found out. My head started going dizzy. So, I immediately took to the streets and went for a five-mile run. My phone has not stopped for one second. It's actually driving me crazy.
I'm still up here in Canada filming xXx [the movie]. Fortunately, that's almost done. I've got no filming today, so I've got a session at 7 p.m. with Jorge Blanco, who's a very accomplished striking coach, works with GSP and Rashad [Evans], among many others. I have a little bit of filming to do tomorrow, so I'll get some training in the morning. Friday, I'm free all day, I'll train again, but Friday night, I still have a little filming to do. Saturday morning I fly home and I have two weeks of intense training.
So, I've got two and a half of weeks. In that meantime, I will be hitting social media. I will be going after Luke Rockhold. I will be doing my thing. Believe you me, I will be pulling no punches, in the fight or in the buildup to it.