Michael Bisping isn’t afraid to say exactly what he feels.
As “The Count” prepares to meet Cung Le this Saturday from China at UFC Fight Night 48, he knows that nothing short of a win will be enough.
After returning from an eye injury that left him sidelined for a year, Bisping (24-6) lost to Tim Kennedy in April. He has alternated wins and losses in each of his last five fights since a four-bout win streak over 2010-11.
“This is a must-win fight for me. I have to prove to the UFC, I have to prove to the fans, and I have to prove to myself that I’m still an elite fighter who can go on, get some wins over contenders, and fight for the UFC title,” he said. “My last fight against Tim Kennedy sucked; it was the worst performance of my life. Kennedy had a gameplan to hold me down and he executed that gameplan well.
Despite initially feeling ready for action, the Brit now believes he made a critical mistake taking the fight vs. Kennedy in the first place.
“In hindsight, I should never have accepted a fight just seven weeks after getting cleared to return to the gym after my eye injury,” Bisping said. “Yes, I was anxious to get back in there and earn my first paycheck in over a year but, with hindsight, I needed several months in the gym getting rid of ringrust. Instead, I made a huge mistake in taking on a wrestler like Kennedy without putting the work in – and I paid for it.”
Since turning pro in 2004, Bisping has avoided falling victim to a losing streak, and he isn’t about to let the former Strikeforce champion Le become the first to do such a thing.
“I’ve been fighting high-level competition for the last six, seven years,” he stated. “But I don’t want to be one of the guys in the Top-10 who wins a few and loses a few. I want to be No. 1 and I want to fight for the UFC title.
“My back is against the wall in terms of making that happen. I need to win to prove that I’m not just some fighter with a name who is fighting here and there for paydays.”
As for Le in general, Bisping knows he’ll be facing a different style fighter than Kennedy, Alan Belcher or many others he’s battled along the way. There is one area he feels an advantage will hold true in his corner.
“He’s got good power, he’s a great striker if he can keep it long (at a distance) but he’s got nothing against the cage,” he said. “He’s got no stamina, either. But he’s very dangerous if you let him do what he does best.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: Eric Bolte