UFCjunkie.com: Youíll be fighting Matt Hamill Saturday at UFC 75. In the past, after Hamill had went to the media campaigning for the fight, you mentioned that fighting him would be a step backward in your career. So how did the fight come about?
Michael Bisping: Like you mentioned, he did call me out. Look, I can understand why the UFC wanted this fight. A lot of people watch the show and want to see us fight. Itís the fight the fans want, so thatís good enough for me. Yeah, I didnít want it at first. I wanted to put the whole ďUltimate FighterĒ thing behind me and move on with my career in the UFC. But the fightís booked. I look forward to going out there and shutting him up and putting on a good show.
UFCjunkie.com: Hamill was portrayed as a bit of a sympathetic character on the show. Was that an accurate portrayal?
Michael Bisping: No, no (it isnít). They portrayed him as this big gullible, bloody puppy-eyed deaf kid, but that wasnít the case at all. The guyís an *******, for lack of a better word. He came on the show for the wrong reasons. Heís a bit of a bully. He didnít respect anyone. When itís universal that every guy who meant him thought he was an *******, well, heís got to be an *******. Youíd think someone ó at least one person ó would like you, but no one in the house except for his buddy Danny (Abbadi) did.
UFCjunkie.com: Were they really that tight on the show?
Michael Bisping: Maybe there was a little man-love going on. (laughs) Seriously, you could see the connection. There was some electricity there. But whatever. Itís 2007. Iím all for gays. More power to them. (laughs) But honestly, they did portray (Matt) as a bit of a teddy bear, and that wasnít the case at all.
UFCjunkie.com: I was at UFC 68 and saw Hamillís win over Rex Holman. It was a solid victory, but it was almost like Hamill wanted to keep it on his feet to prove something. A few people have called it ďsloppy.Ē Do you think heís overconfident in those non-wrestling aspects of his game?
Michael Bisping: Absolutely. Iíve said it before. They guy really is an overconfident ego-maniac. I completely respect the guy for what heís overcome. Heís done well for himself given what lifeís dealt him. But heís not what I would call a mixed-martial artist. Obviously, heís got to improve his striking and jiu-jitsu. But I hope he did. I hope he comes out trying to prove a point. But he doesnít really have any style with his strategy.
UFCjunkie.com: I know itís hard to predict fight outcomes, but what can fans expect Saturday?
Michael Bisping: I think itís going to be an exciting fight. If youíve seen Hamill, you see that he comes out hard and ready to fight. He doesnít like me. That goes back a while, so Iím sure heís training his ass off. For me, I always look to finish a fight from the start. Weíre going to war, and someoneís going to get stopped. OK, heís going to get stopped. All he can really do is take me down, but he canít finish me from there. He doesnít really have any ground and pound or anything like that. I donít like to make predictions, but thereís a reason most of my fights finish by knockout.
UFCjunkie.com: Tito Ortiz was your coach on ďThe Ultimate Fighter 3.Ē Do you still see or talk to him much?
Michael Bisping: No, not really. He lives in California, and I live in Manchester, so we donít really bump into each other too much. (laughs) Me and Tito get along all right. We say hi when we see each other and exchange pleasantries, but thatís about all, to be honest.
UFCjunkie.com: Looking back to your time on the show, how would you rate him as a coach?
Michael Bisping: I canít bad-mouth his coaching abilities on the show. He did a good job. You canít deny it. He brought in Saul Soliz (kickboxing coach) and Dean Lister (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach), who are both world-class in their own rights. Saulís a fantastic coach, Tito showed us wrestling things and takedown defense, and Dean Lister showed us some great stuff on the floor. So as a whole of a team, it was very, very good.
UFCjunkie.com: Well, youíre both light heavyweights. If they offered you a fight against Tito, is that something you would take?
Michael Bisping: Of course. Iíd be fóng happy to sock his big basketball head all over the Octagon. (laughs) Iím only joking. Youíre going to quote me on that, arenít you?
UFCjunkie.com: Who? Me?
Michael Bisping: Honestly, Iíve got a lot of respect for Tito. Heís a five-time world champion or something like that. Iíll fight anyone the UFC puts in front of me. I know thatís a bit of a boring answer, but thatís the way it is. Whatever comes my way, so be it.
UFCjunkie.com: Is there any fighter whoís off limits as an opponent ó whether for personal reasons or because theyíre training partners?
Michael Bisping: No, not really. Iím still taking my time. Iím not ready for a title fight or anything like that. Itís only my fourth UFC fight, you know? I just want to keep learning, progressing and maturing.
UFCjunkie.com: Thereís been talk of a possible U.K. version of ďThe Ultimate Fighter.Ē Is that something youíd be interested in being a part of?
Michael Bisping: Oh yeah, of course. Sign me up. Iíd love to be a coach or whatever. Thatíd be great.
UFCjunkie.com: So, specifically, youíd be interested in being a coach ó and not just some type of host or assistant?
Michael Bisping: Absolutely. A lot of the guys came back from the show and said they hated it and would never do anything like that again. I loved it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It changed my life. Usually, the guys who donít like it are the ones who donít make it very far. The guys who are there to the end usually love it.
UFCjunkie.com: Do you prefer fighting in the U.K. rather than the U.S. or somewhere else?
Michael Bisping: It doesnít really matter to me. Iíve had good experiences wherever I fight. I will say that the crowd in Manchester (at UFC 70) was amazing, and I expect London to be the same. But the crowd was pretty amazing when I fought in the States too. Saturday will be at a great venue. But Iím pretty sure my next fight will be in the U.S. Iím excited about it.
UFCjunkie.com: As Iím sure youíre well aware, thereís been some criticism that the UFC has babied you in your early career. What would you say to fans who have that gripe?
Michael Bisping: Do you feel that way?
UFCjunkie.com: Iím talking about a lot of fans ó vocal fans. Even a lot of UFCjunkie.com readers.
Michael Bisping: But you personally? Do you think that?
UFCjunkie.com: Not necessarily. Well, to an extent, I guess. But no more so than any other young fighter. The UFC needs a deliberate plan for their investments, so I understand not rushing you guys. And Iím not just talking about you guys who win the reality show.
Michael Bisping: Well, here it is. For one, I only fight who the UFC puts in front of me. My first fight after winning the contract was Eric Schaffer, who was 9-1. He finished every win with a first-round submission. Heís a tough guy. I wouldnít call that a baby fight. His first fight in the UFC, and he chokes a guy out cold in two-and-a-half minutes. Thatís no gimme. As for Elvis Sinosic, he doesnít have the best record, but heís fought many of the best guys in the world. That fight came about because his last fight was in Cage Rage in England, and he knocked out a guy called Mike Epstein, who was well known in England. So that fight kind of made sense in England. I had beat (Epstein) and so had Elvis, so I think it was a good bit of match-making on the UFCís part.
UFCjunkie.com: And Hamill?
Michael Bisping: Well, he screamed, shouted and babied to get the fight. And heís still undefeated. You canít keep the fans happy. Well, I shouldnít say fans. The Internet keyboard warriors, you can never please them. Theyíll always have something to complain about.
UFCjunkie.com: I know youíre training a lot in Big Bear with Quinton Jackson. Have you thought about making the U.S. your permanent home?
Michael Bisping: I think about it a lot. I love the States. I love the lifestyle. Itís a possibility. You get a lot for your money here. Ideally, Iíd like to do half and half ó half my time here and half my time in England. I get great training in both places.
UFCjunkie.com: How about a title shot? You mentioned that earlier.
Michael Bisping: Yeah, you know, when you get to the title, thereís only one place to go. And itís down. Itís true. Everyone wants a piece of you. I want to be there some day. I only have two (UFC) fights under my belt since winning (the contract), and Iím still learning. I donít want to be there yet. Maybe next year. Thatís what I want. I think Iíll achieve that goal eventually.
UFCjunkie.com: So is it a fight-by-fight re-evaluation thing?
Michael Bisping: Exactly. My ambition is to stay undefeated, and if I do that, the title shot will come soon enough.