Posts Tagged ‘Michael Bisping’

UFC 159′s Michael Bisping: ‘I fight better when I’m angry’

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UFC 159

An angry Michael Bisping eyes revenage against Alan Belcher at UFC 159. (Diamond Images/Getty Images)

NEWARK — He’s back. After an absence of nearly a year and a half.

True, Michael Bisping competed in the UFC as recently as January, but that wasn’t the real Bisping. And I say that not because he was knocked out by a Vitor Belfort head kick. He fared much better in the fight before that, a decision victory over Brian Stann last September, and performed admirably even in a loss to Chael Sonnen eight months earlier.

But the Bisping in those bouts — or, more precisely, in the leadup to those bouts — was a gentleman, an agreeable sort. He talked about his dedication and preparation and blah blah blah. It was not the Bisping we’d come to know and love. Or hate. Not the Bisping who spewed insults in the face of Jason Miller right up until the night in December 2011 when he made “Mayhem” his fourth straight conquest. Would we ever again see that angry guy from so many past fights?

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  • Published On Apr 27, 2013
  • Predictions for UFC 159: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

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    Chael Sonnen (right) is considered a heavy underdog against Jon Jones . (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Chael Sonnen (right) is considered a heavy underdog against Jon Jones . (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) analysts Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 159, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET) and will be blogged on

    Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

    WAGENHEIM: When the time comes, Chael P.’s music will start to play, he’ll put on his short pants and go to work. And as soon as the guy in the snake suit moves out of the way, he’ll put his head down, walk across the cage and put Jon Jones on his prissy little … oh, wait, I’m describing the fight as it plays out in Sonnen’s melodramatic fantasy narrative, not the way it really will.

    A more realistic, if less infomercial-ish scenario: Sonnen comes out boxing and moving forward, and at the first glimpse of one of Jones’s skinny legs, moves in for a takedown try. If he gets it, the crowd will go crazy and we’ll get a rare look at the “Bones” bottom game. Does Jon have the jiu-jitsu chops to become the latest to submit a guy whose walkout music should be “Taps”? Chael is not known for inflicting much damage while smothering an opponent, so it’d be interesting to see if Jones would put those treacherous elbows of his to use and be the ground aggressor. Or would he just work his way back to his feet?

    If, on the other hand, Sonnen fails on his takedown attempt, it will be an ingloriously short night for the unworthy challenger. Jones by KO.

    HUNT: Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Put simply, it’s hard come up with a conceivable scenario in which Jones loses this fight. He’s superior on virtually every dimension — If he’s not Sonnen’s equal as a wrestler, he comes awfully close — he’s younger,  more athletic and will be the crowd favorite. The best Sonnen can hope for: a respectable showing will suggest that he, in fact, earned this opportunity and didn’t simply talk/market himself into a title shot. Jones by TKO.

    Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

    WAGENHEIM: If you spend a few minutes around these men, as I did on Thursday, it’s hard to picture Belcher winning this fight. Bisping is so supremely confident that he speaks of his opponent as if he were a yokel from Double-A ball who will be unable to get a piece of the Brit’s major-league playoff heater. And Belcher is, well, low-key and thoughtful and a little bemused by the leadup to what he acknowledges as the biggest fight of his career. Is the man with the tattoo of “The Man in Black” on his arm really in over his head? Tough to say, but I’m going to go with no. I think he’s going to give “The Count” a fight he’ll remember. Belcher might even beat him. But I’ve got to go with Bisping. This is the type of fight he’s won for all of his career (only to lose when he’s another step or so closer to the pot of gold). Bisping by decision.

    HUNT: Belcher has the heavier hands (and kicks, for that matter), but Bisping can win this if he plays it smart, mixing up his punches with takedowns like he did against Brian Stann last September. Bisping by decision.

    WERTHEIM: One hopes the fight lives up to the considerable advance trash talk. While it’s not all-out desperation time, Bisping is 34 now and has lost two of his last three fights. In Belcher, he gets a UFC veteran with a battery of skills and deceptive power. If both fighters are willing to stay on their feet, this has TKO potential. If it goes to the ground, we could have five rounds or stall-and-sprawl. Either way, I pick Bisping by decision.

    Roy Nelson vs. Chieck Kongo 

    WAGENHEIM: Kongo has the power to test Nelson’s hard-as-a-mulleted-rocker chin. But Cheick is known to make mistakes, and Roy is known to capitalize on them. Nelson by KO.

    HUNT: Though Nelson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, could devour Kongo on the mat, he’ll likely stand with the chiseled Frenchman, who is yet to amount to the powerhouse fighter his appearance suggests he’d be. Nelson by TKO (R2 or R3).

    WERTHEIM: You love Roy Nelson or you hate him, but have to admire both the durability and the unlikely skill set of Big Country. He won’t win any sculpted physique contests, but he can win fights — in a variety of ways. In Congo, he faces a veteran who seems to lose when he’s on the verge of a breakthrough; and win when he’s on the verge of being written off. Look for a TKO — and potential KO/fight of the Night — but I’ll say it’s Nelson who, like his belly, comes up big. Nelson by TKO.

    Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes

    WAGENHEIM: If Davis wants to make another go at the top of the light heavyweight division, he simply cannot slip up. Or tap out. Davis by decision.

    HUNT: This one will depend on the superior wrestler Davis, who can rack up points with takedown after takedown, as long as he doesn’t dawdle inside the Brazilian’s dangerous guard for too long. Davis by decision. 

    WERTHEIM: His nickname notwithstanding, Mr. Wonderful doesn’t often impress. A rangy wrestler and methodical fighter, Davis likes to do what’s necessary to win, seldom taking advantage of an inevitable reach advantage. Magalhaes looked good in his UFC return last year, but can he make inroads against a superior wrestler? The guess here: no. Davis by a (boring) decision.

    Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy

    WAGENHEIM: If you’re looking for aesthetics, change the channel. This ain’t going to be pretty. It isn’t, either. Miller and Healy both are grinders who close distance. When they meld into one, I expect the Jersey guy to grind just a little bit better. Miller by decision.

    HUNT: Miller will have a significant edge in speed everywhere and Healy’s strong suit, his boxing, isn’t dynamic enough to catch the hometown favorite. Miller By submission.

    WERTHEIM: Not dissimilar fighters, UFC veteran tough guys with submission-based ground skills and some power. Fighting in front of a home crowd, Miller, a New Jersey native, should prevail. Miller by decision.

  • Published On Apr 26, 2013
  • UFC suspends Thiago Tavares for failed drug test, reveals Vitor Belfort’s use of TRT

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    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    It was Friday evening, a little over 24 hours before a featherweight championship bout in Las Vegas that the UFC was hyping as a superfight. But the chatter in the various online meeting places of mixed martial arts fans was about a different fight, one that took place nearly two weeks earlier and 6,000 miles away.

    The circulating rumor that Vitor Belfort had failed a drug test following a Jan. 19 victory eventually reached Michael Bisping, who had a vested interest in the matter because he was Belfort’s opponent in that middleweight bout in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In fact, had Bisping won that night, he’d have earned a shot at the division’s champion, Anderson Silva. But the Brit had his hopes doused and his senses scrambled by a second-round head kick that led to a Belfort TKO.

    Now Bisping was wondering if he’d been in a fair fight. “About a certain someone who I fought recently failing his drug test,” he wrote on Twitter. “I hope it’s not true.”

    Well, it’s not.

    UFC president Dana White insisted over the weekend that while there had been an “irregular” test result, it did not involve Belfort. And on Wednesday the fight promotion issued a press release announcing that the failed drug test belonged to lightweight Thiago Tavares, whose results showed the presence of the anabolic steroid Drostanolone. The substance did not exactly enhance the 28-year-old Brazilian’s performance, as he was knocked out in less than two minutes by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tavares was handed a nine-month suspension by the UFC, which assisted the new Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA, or Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, in overseeing regulatory aspects of the event.

    However, that’s not the end of the story. In the same press release, the UFC revealed that Belfort competed while undergoing an approved regimen of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Vitor has been evasive whenever questions about TRT have been raised. And when he met with reporters prior to Saturday night’s fights in Las Vegas, and Bisping’s accusatory tweet was mentioned, the 37-year-old implied that what you see is all natural. “I think people get jealous,” he said with a smile, “when a guy at my age is destroying these people getting title shots.”

    Jealous, perhaps, or maybe just uncomfortable. Belfort has broken no rules. Neither has Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Frank Mir or anyone on the growing list of MMA fighters who’ve received athletic commission exemptions to use TRT to maintain their testosterone levels. But make no mistake: Legal or not, that’s a performance enhancing substance, allowing an aging veteran to punch and kick like a younger man. And when you see a KO like the one Belfort put on Bisping, you’ve got to wonder when this sport will take a stand. What’s at risk in MMA, after all, is much greater than in other sports. The worst thing a baseball player on a PED can do is wreck some pitcher’s ERA. An enhanced fighter poses a far scarier threat.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Feb 06, 2013
  • Ticket sales lagging ahead of UFC 152, more notes from pre-fight presser

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    Jon Jones (left) defends his UFC light heavyweight championship on Saturday night in Toronto against Vitor Belfort. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    TORONTO – The two most telling moments during the UFC 152 press conference Thursday afternoon at a sports bar in the shadow of Air Canada Centre, where the Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort light heavyweight title bout and the rest of the fight card will go down Saturday night, came at the very beginning and right at the end.

    One of the first things emcee Tom Wright, the director of operations for UFC Canada, told us was that tickets are still available. So even with two championship bouts on the bill — we’ll also see Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson vie to become the UFC’s first flyweight belt holder — this fight organization that less than a year and a half ago sold 55,000 seats at the Rogers Centre in a matter of minutes is having trouble filling an 18,000-seat arena down the block. That’s especially troubling considering the coinciding lack of competition at a time of year when people in these parts typically would be huddled around ice rinks. As Wright said, alluding to the ongoing NHL lockout, “We may not have Hockey Night in Canada, but we can have UFC night in Canada and we’ll fill that void.”

    Just maybe not fill all of it.

    Wright also ended the media gathering with something telling, though not concretely so. Just before having the six fighters on the dais square off for the sea of cameras in the room, he told the assembled reporters and fans that there will be another press conference next Thursday in Montreal to announce that Georges St-Pierre will defend his welterweight championship against interim belt holder Carlos Condit at the Nov. 17 event in that city.

    Did it not occur to Tom that scheduling a press conference to announce news that he’s just revealed renders the forthcoming publicity event not so newsworthy? Of course he understood that. This was simply another demonstration of the UFC team’s grasp that news need not necessarily be the only information being dispensed at its press conferences. The most vital information we ingest when a group of fighters sits before us two days before the cage door closes on them is more amorphous. If we’re lucky, we get a feeling in our bones about what these fighters are feeling in their bones.

    We got some of that on Thursday:

    You can count on him: The hour-long hypathon morphed into a lovefest at times. Jones likes and respects Belfort, who likes and respects him. Benavidez and Johnson enjoy each other’s company to the point that they’ve gone to a concert together (more on that later). And Michael Bisping and Brian Stann made nice, too.

    Until the very end, that is, when all the words had been said and all that was left was the photo op. Michael Bisping had to do something to spice things up, or he wouldn’t be Michael Bisping. So when he and Stann met at center stage for the cameras, Stann approached it as a ceremony while Bisping saw an opportunity. He put on his best mean mug and pushed his forehead into Stann’s, moving the Marine onto his heels a bit. Stann seemed a bit taken aback, and as he stepped aside, Bisping posed once more for the cameras and walked away, pointing at his opponent and telling anyone within listening range that Stann “has the look of a man who knows he’s beat.”

    I don’t know that Stann is a beaten man in the fight. But in the hype game he’s an amateur next to “The Count.”

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  • Published On Sep 21, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 152

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    Jon Jones (above) is a lopsided favorite in Saturday’s light heavyweight title defense against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Dave Doyle, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 152 on Saturday in Toronto.

    Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

    DOYLE: I’m tempted to take Belfort simply for contrarian purposes. But I can’t ignore the 13-1 odds and a motivated Jones, who will add another former champ to his list of victims. Jones by TKO.

    HUNT: The 25-year-old Jones’ biggest threat is himself at the moment. If he doesn’t allow Dana White’s bullying tactics to taint his mental state, he has the speed to evade, then stop the elder Belfort, a four-week replacement coming off May surgery for a broken hand. Jones by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: I want to believe that Belfort can make this a fight, maybe just because Vitor believes it so vehemently. He does have the explosiveness and just-go-for-it mentality necessary to make Jones uncomfortable. But all who’ve stepped in with the champ have said they’re going to take it to him, and then when their moment finally comes, they’re mesmerized by his length, strength and avant-garde athleticism. Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: We’re surprised how many fans are giving Belfort a puncher’s chance. You have to think some of this owes to Jones’ rejection of the Chael Sonnen fight and the (largely successful) smear campaign by the UFC. Jones is simply better than Befort in every conceivable way — not to mention younger, more athletic, and more on the line. Jones by TKO.

    Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

    DOYLE: This has Fight of the Night potential. Johnson absolutely can win, but I think Benavidez’s power at 125 will make the difference. Benavidez by TKO.

    HUNT: I thought Johnson was champion material when he faced 135-pound titleholder Dominick Cruz a year ago. He had the skill set and speed to match Cruz’s crazy pace nearly move for move. He only lacked the power — something that should correct itself now that he’s moved down to the UFC’s recently-introduced flyweight division. Johnson by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: My prediction? Speed. Oh, you want to know who wins and gets to make history as the UFC’s first 125-pound champion? I’m going to go with the guy who’s beaten every fighter he’s been in with other than indomitable 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz. Benavidez by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Intriguing fight that has the potential to be a great one. Johnson’s superior speed will be the difference in the Fight of the Night. Johnson by decision.
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  • Published On Sep 20, 2012
  • Reviewing UFC on Fox 2′s undercard

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    Charles Oliveira (right) and Tim Tebow have more in common besides being winners. (Mike Dinovo/US Presswire)

    CHICAGO — The Tim Tebow of the UFC doesn’t speak English.

    His name is Charles Oliveira (15-2, 1 NC) and the back of his walkout shirt reads, “My power come from God,” who Oliveira credited with helping him scramble into a successful submission after Eric Wisely (19-6) escaped both the ankle lock and knee bar.

    “God gave me the power. God showed me the way,” said Oliveira through his translator. “He helps me and gives me support and it’s my job to get that message out.”

    After a lightning fast 14-0 start to his MMA career, former top prospect Oliveira dropped two of his next three fights, but he made his featherweight debut in style on the UFC on FOX 2 undercard. Oliveira successfully switched from an ankle lock to a knee bar to a calf slicer and submitted Wisely in the first round. He said he was ready for the fight to go to any position.

    “I’m a professional fighter, “Oliveira said. “My gameplan is to fight standing up and to fight on the ground.”

    Oliveira, who had previously fought at lightweight in the UFC, said he normally walks around at about 157 pounds so he expects to remain at 145 for the foreseeable future. He even weighed in at 144 pounds just to show that he could make the weight cut.

    “This is my division now. The cut wasn’t easy, but I feel strong and I feel fast,” said Oliveira, who wants to be viewed as a true professional who makes weight every time he fights.

    The win snaps a three-fight winless streak for Oliveira, but he said he didn’t feel pressure from his coaches or Dana White to win this fight. Oliveira put all the pressure on himself and refused to crumble under it. He wasn’t the only former top prospect to put on a solid performance on the undercard.

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  • Published On Jan 28, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC on Fox 2

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    Rashad Evans (above) is favored to defeat the fast-rising Phil Davis in the main event of Saturday's UFC on Fox 2 in Chicago. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC on Fox 2 on Saturday in Chicago.

    Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

    FOWLKES: If it were a straight-up wrestling match, I’d take Davis. But Evans knows the tricks of this trade a little better, and he’s more comfortable in the big fights. In a match-up this close, that experience could make all the difference. Evans by decision.

    HUNT: The athletic Davis has the right body type (lanky reach, thick lower half for explosive shots) to negate champion Jon Jones’ assets in another year or two. But it’s that year or two of missing gym time that will give Evans the edge Saturday. Evans by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: If Davis can take this fight to the mat, his wrestling pedigree (2008 NCAA champ, 2006 runner-up, four-time All-American) will trump the usually superior grappling of Evans. But I have my doubts that, with barely three years in the MMA game, he’s developed the cage savvy to come to grips with Rashad, whose footwork and fast hands should send “Mr. Wonderful” to the canvas not on his own terms. Evans by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: This is a big step up for Davis and the conventional wisdom is that he a placeholder so Evans and Jon Jones can finally settle their score. But Evans hasn’t impressed lately; and if Davis can take this to the ground, he has a real shot. I’ll go upset here. Davis by decision.

    Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen

    FOWLKES: Bisping is a better fighter than he gets credit for, but Sonnen is strong in the exact places where the Brit is weak. Get ready for a carnival of takedowns, America. Sonnen by decision.

    HUNT: Though Bisping looked polished and well prepared in his last fight against a gassing “Mayhem” Miller, wrestlers are a bad matchup for the U.K. striker. The story of this fight will be takedowns, takedowns, takedowns. Sonnen by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Did you see the whupping Sonnen put on Brian Stann? And that guy’s a Marine with thunder in his fists, someone you might be wary of closing the distance against. Chael isn’t going to hesitate for a millisecond before moving in for the kill against the pitter-patter punching of Bisping. The Brit says he can win this fight from his back, but if he has the ground game to expose Chael’s jiu-jitsu vulnerability, we’ve yet to see it. Sonnen by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Bisping will do his best to get in Sonnen’s head (PED! PED!) but if he’s Sonnen equal in the talking department, there’s nothing else he does better. Like most Brits, Bisping’s not adept at defending the takedown. Sonnen’s superior wrestling will win out. Sonnen by decision.

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  • Published On Jan 27, 2012