Michael Bisping has been working for a title shot -- and to be champion -- in the UFC for 10 years. The fact that Luke Rockhold is the man standing in his way just happens to be an added bonus.
"He's a smug a**hole, let's be honest," Bisping told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. ... "Luke Rockhold owns a victory over me. I want to rectify that. I want to set the record straight. So yes, I want to be the victor. I want to be the world champion. But I also want to beat Luke Rockhold. It is personal for me. And when I look at him, I just want to knock that smug look off his face. I really do. Because you've never seen somebody that walks around so smug. He's just the biggest, smuggest prick you've ever seen in your life. I would love another opportunity to punch that guy in the face. And to be world champion at the same time? Where do I sign up?"
Bisping will get that chance in the main event of UFC 199 on June 4 in Los Angeles. Chris Weidman pulled out of the fight with Rockhold last week due to a serious neck injury. Bisping might have been the UFC's second choice -- Ronaldo Souza was the first -- but "The Count" doesn't care.
This is the opportunity he has always wanted. It is not under perfect conditions -- two weeks notice without a training camp -- but that doesn't matter to him.
"My weight is good," Bisping said. "My conditioning is good. I'm gonna train like a mad man for the next 10 days. I'll be there. I'm gonna go in confident. No injuries. This time in a fortnight, I could well be the new world champion, my friend."
Bisping and Rockhold have a history. They sparred together once years ago and Bisping said he made "minced meat" out of the current champ. Inside the Octagon, Rockhold beat Bisping via second-round submission after a head kick knockdown in November 2014. Bisping believes he was in that fight -- maybe even winning it -- before the finishing sequence.
"At the end of the first round, he was panicked," Bisping sid. "I gave him some sh*t at the end of the first round, because he was like, 'I'm gonna finish you in one round.' And I said, 'Hey look, still here, buddy. What's going on?' When he sits down in his corner, you can see that he was panicked and his corner was panicked."
One out of three judges did give Bisping the first in that fight, so it was a close round. Bisping isn't interested in judges at UFC 199, though. He knows Rockhold will be the better-conditioned fighter since he had the benefit of a full training camp. So the Brit is looking to end the bout quickly.
"I know the world is expecting me to lose," Bisping said. "Luke Rockhold knows, though, that I'm a formidable opponent. He knows that he can be as smug as he wants, but as Christopher Walken says on 'Saturday Night Live,' we put our pants on one leg at a time. Instead, I go out there and take world titles."
Bisping (28-7) is coming off three straight wins, most recently a unanimous decision over former champ Anderson Silva in January. That was the biggest fight of Bisping's long career -- until now.
Bisping, 37, was on The Ultimate Fighter 3. He's nearing a full 10 years in the UFC. Bisping has had opportunities before, title eliminators and he lost all of them. Yet every single time after one of those defeats, he picked himself back up and went on a winning streak. It's nearly unprecedented.
"Most people only get to this position one time in their lives," Bisping said. "I've been here four times."
"The Count" is certainly a skilled, well-rounded fighter. He also has a certain self-belief, one that he is absolutely carrying into this rematch with Rockhold. Bisping is using the word "destiny" and it's something he truly feels about this set of circumstances.
"If I lose this, I'll never get a shot again," Bisping said. "But I'm taking this, not just for a shot, not just for a payday, not just for some media attention. I believe I can win this. And that's why I'm taking this fight. I've always been a fighter. I'm a fighter's fighter. I'm a real fighter. And I'll prove that in two weeks."