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Michael Bisping responds to Yoel Romero, clarifies UFC title situation

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Michael Bisping
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

While the landscape of several UFC divisions are becoming clearer, the upcoming schedule at middleweight remains very much a mystery.

Part of that delay is due to the recent surgery of Michael Bisping, the UFC’s reigning middleweight champion, who underwent a procedure to repair a torn meniscus along with several other minor knee issues this past winter. But with Bisping’s recovery timetable on track and nearing an end, things are starting to once again take shape at 185 pounds.

“Odds are it’s going to be Yoel Romero, my next fight,” Bisping said Monday on The MMA Hour. “That’s what I’m assuming. I’ve had no further dialogue with the UFC, but I know that Georges (St-Pierre), his trainer (Jorge Blanco) told me recently that they’re pretty much at an agreement with the UFC, so the deal is almost done and he wants to fight me. I am the fight that they’re targeting, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. As of right now, I would assume that Yoel is my next opponent, but there’s always that wild card.”

Bisping, 37, last fought in October when he avenged his most notorious career loss by edging Dan Henderson via unanimous decision to successfully make the first defense of his UFC middleweight title reign. Tensions have since flared between he and Yoel Romero, the fearsome Cuban wrestler who is undefeated in the Octagon and staked his claim to the division’s No. 1 contendership with a devastating flying knee knockout of Chris Weidman at UFC 205.

Though a few other middleweight names also hold viable cases for a title shot at 185 pounds, Romero is believed to be the next in line. But when Bisping hears recent claims made by Romero that the UFC is attempting to book the fight for May 13 in Dallas, Texas at UFC 211, he isn’t sure where Romero is getting his facts.

“I don’t know if he’s making it up, but I have not been told the same,” Bisping said. “I was offered a bout agreement (for) April 8th, and I needed knee surgery. I’m still limping around right now, I’m in a lot of pain still. I’m lifting weights, just upper body because that’s all I can do. But I haven’t heard anything about May. I guess that timing would work. I’m assuming that would work. What’s that, 12 weeks away? I think, hopefully, another month and I’ll be able to train properly. That potentially could work. But formally, and hand-to-my-heart, I have not been approached about that date by the UFC.”

Bisping noted several times that, at this point, his next opponent “could be anybody,” as nothing has been officially signed. He also reiterated that his preference would be to land the first mammoth payday of his career by defending his belt against legendary UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.

But if Romero does end up getting the shot, a budding rivalry has already begun to blossom between the two middleweights. Bisping and Romero have taken repeated jabs at one another over recent weeks in the media. That tension came to a head last Thursday when Romero called into Bisping’s SiriusXM show to personally confront Bisping after a heated Twitter exchange. And with that in mind, Bisping on The MMA Hour doubled down on his belief that Romero isn’t even the mastermind behind his own tweets.

“It’s his Twitter account, yes, but I don’t believe that it’s actually him writing the tweets,” Bisping said. “The guy can hardly speak English, but yet he seems to able to tweet it perfectly with the perfect punctuation, apostrophes, et cetera. And I really don’t believe that he has the wit. Look at him, the guy is knucklehead. He’s only a couple of DNA strands away from — he’s a barbarian. He’s a knucklehead. Come on, he hasn’t got wit. He hasn’t got humor. He called into my radio show last week, The Countdown. … I tried to have an intelligent discussion with this guy and all he could do was scream and shout and then hang up the phone.

“This guy, he’s got rocks for brains.”

Romero’s viral call-in came just a day after the 39-year-old trolled Bisping by setting up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Bisping's medical expenses and retirement party after the two potentially meet in the Octagon later this year. And while Bisping appreciated the effort made by his next potential challenger, he wasn’t a big fan of Romero abusing GoFundMe’s charitable purposes.

“I get it,” Bisping said. “It’s a decent stab, an attempt to stir the pot, so to speak. I’ll say first and foremost, I think there’s $200 in that pot. I’ll take that $200, thank you. I’ll go get a nice massage after I whoop his ass, when that day comes. Because make no mistake, that day will come. I’ll use that $200 to go for a nice massage, so thank you Yoel, I appreciate that. On a more serious note, GoFundMe pages do fantastic work for people who need help, so it was a little distasteful, him using that to mock me. I’m currently using a GoFundMe page to help a young child beat cancer for a fourth time, and thankfully Leo the Lion, we raised the money. So GoFundMe pages are great things, so I don’t know, (it was in) poor taste.

“Not what he was trying to do,” Bisping added. “That didn’t rub me the wrong way at all. I get it. He’s trying to get create excitement, he’s trying to get the fight, he’s trying to get people talking to me. He’s like a little annoyance in the corner. He’s a fly buzzing around my head, and that fly will get swatted, believe you me.”

Bisping said he ultimately is looking at a return to action in the early summer, with a June or July date being preferable to something as soon as May. And he already knows that regardless of which contender he ends up facing, there are going to be plenty of complaints heard from the rest of the ranks at 185 pounds.

“Here’s the thing, I have the belt. And everybody wants to fight for the belt, everybody wants to be the champion,” Bisping said. “Of course they do, that’s part of the reason why we do this, and I totally get it. The reality of the situation is I can’t fight everybody at the same time. I can’t do that. So regardless of who I fight, there’s always going to be someone pissed off. People are talking sh*t about me. Where’s Luke Rockhold since I knocked him out? Has he come back and fought? No. People aren’t talking sh*t about him. ‘Jacare’ wasn’t exactly the most busy person. He comes back and fights No. 13 ranked Tim Boestch. He did a great job, but he did what he should’ve done against Tim Boestch, no disrespect to Tim Boestch.

“There’s always going to be someone pissed off. Yoel Romero said he’s going to be pissed off, he’s calling me out. I can’t fight everybody on the same night. Fingers crossed, I get through them, I’ll happily fight them one by one. I’ve never turned anyone down. I’ve paid my dues to this sport. I’ve fought everybody. I’ve fought people on short notice. I’ve saved cards. I’ve fought people who we all knew were on goddamn steroids at the time, and I still took those fights, and I went out there and fought and I went out on my shield. I did my best all that time, and now I’ve got the belt, and now I’ve got a little bit of say in the matter. That’s all it is.

“And if you don’t like it, tough sh*t. That is the prize of being world champion. If you don’t like it, kiss my ass, because I have the belt and I do get a say. And that’s why I said to Yoel Romero: until I decide to fight you, you are my little b*tch. Now go roll me a cigar.”