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UFC: Michael Bisping discusses Belcher, Lombard, Hendo and getting called out

By Steph Daniels

Michael Bisping may not have won his last fight, but he’s definitely winning at life. With a new, two year TV analyst deal freshly signed, an upcoming fight booked with one of the top middleweights in the world, and a slew of diehard fans firmly in his corner, things are always sunny in The Count’s back yard.

One thing that comes along with being a Top 10 athlete with an outspoken manner, is that you get called out a good bit. I’d wager to say that Michael gets called out as much as any currently fighting champion. Recently, he even had an NFL pro bet his Bentley in a call-out video with Alan Belcher. Bisping responded with one of his own, and the battle before the battle is officially in full swing.

I recently spoke to Michael and got his thoughts on a variety of topics including Belcher’s video, being called out constantly, Dan Henderson and Hector Lombard. Here’s what he had to say:

Alan Belcher’s Bentley video / Bisping’s Fiat 500 counter video

When I first saw the video, a bunch of things went through my mind. First of all, I thought, ‘How stupid. This is just ridiculous.’ Then I felt sorry for him. Then I wondered, after seeing the look on his face, if he had some kind of mental problem.

So many people had seen it, and were asking me for a response, so I figured I had to give them one. I wanted to do it in my own way. I thought the silliest part was the guy trying to show how much money he had. I’m not like that. That’s not my background. I drive a nice car, but I’m certainly not gonna sit in a Range Rover thinking that I’m a big shot. That’s not where I come from, and I don’t think that sends out the right message about me or what I’m about. I figured that when I countered his video, we’d just make them look like the idiots and put a Fiat 500 on the line [laughs].

Hector Lombard

I’ve met the guy once, and he didn’t leave a very good impression and he acted like kind of an idiot. All I did was tell my side of the story about how that meeting went. It didn’t go well, but other than that, we really don’t have any personal history, yet he continually calls me out, makes disparaging remarks … this and that.

He always talks about how good he is, so why wouldn’t I take some personal satisfaction in seeing him come up short. I absolutely enjoyed watching that. I liked watching Yushin Okami make him look very average.

Yeah, he’s way over-priced and he’s not the biggest name. I’m not sure if he’s a big draw or not, and that was what Chael was trying to say. Me, personally, I’ve never been the advocate for someone losing their job. I’m not a businessman and it’s not my money on the line. It’s not my decision at all, but I never want to see someone lose their job.

Hendo vs The Dragon

Obviously that fight didn’t deliver the fireworks that were expected. I think everybody knew, deep down, that was how the fight was going to go. When I fought Henderson, I tried to use a similar game plan, but he did land that big shot. Anyone that knows the fight game knew that Machida would use his footwork and elusiveness to try and get in and out, and avoid that big haymaker.

I thought Machida won the fight. He got booed after, and I didn’t agree with the booing. He did what he needed to do to win. Was it the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen? Absolutely not. I’m not saying Dan isn’t a good fighter, because he is, and he was good enough to knock me out, but if he doesn’t land that big shot, he doesn’t really have a Plan B, and he doesn’t use his wrestling much anymore. He’s just always looking to land that big right hand, and if he can’t land it, as we saw the other night, he comes up short.

Hey DJ

I just Dj’d at Sutra last week, there in Costa Mesa. I’ll be honest, that might have been my last one. When I was a kid, I used to DJ a lot, and that was how I was able to train full time and still keep a roof over my head. I was obsessed with it. I loved it.

When my UFC career took off, I stopped doing it. After a while, I got back into it. It was all anybody would ever talk about, and I needed a hobby outside of fighting. I started taking a few bookings and this and that, but I think I might be getting a little bit too old for it. I’m 34 years old now [laughs]. I’m probably still going to do the odd set here and there, but they’ll be few and far between.

I don’t do it for the money, I am just very passionate about the music. If I do the odd set, it will have to be at one of the nicer places, because that’s not the best environment to be in, that late at night. I do enjoy the music, and it’s nice to get out there and spin a set every once in a while.

Constant call outs

It’s a double edged sword. You could take it as an offense, but I don’t. I take it as a complement. I’ve been no stranger to being insulted over the years, so I have very thick skin. These days, when people call me out, I look at it as a complement, because these days when somebody wins a fight, instead of calling out the champion, they call me out. Maybe it’s name recognition, or maybe they think I’m an easier fight, but it’s all good to me. I’m never going to be short of opponents, because plenty of people want to fight me. To all those people that call me out, I thank you.

You can follow Michael via his Twitter, @Bisping

UFC: Michael Bisping inks 2 year analyst deal with FUEL TV

FUEL TV is putting in work to make the channel an all inclusive experience, and the work is paying off. With ever increasing ratings, and new content added routinely, it is a television mecca for UFC fans. Just a few hours ago, they inked a deal with middleweight star, Michael Bisping, to join the likes of Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann and Dominic Cruz in handling analyst and commentary duties on the pre and post fight shows, as well as the weigh-in shows.

The deal is for two years, for an unspecified number of appearances. The Count’s debut appearance on the shows this past weekend were a big hit with fans, as well as the FUEL TV brass, and served as an audition of sorts. The producers were very happy with the on-air chemistry with the other hosts, and immediately set about signing Bisping to a formal contract. Here’s what Michael had to say:

I just left my manager’s office and I just signed the contract. I’ll be a regularly featured analyst on FUEL TV. There’s a lot of down time in between fights, so this allows me to be productive. I had a really great time last week and the producers liked me, so they offered me a contract. I think the next time I’m due back is in three or four weeks. I’m not sure how often I’ll be on, but it should be pretty regularly, because I’m close to L.A.

When asked if this signified that his active fighting career might be winding down, he was adamant in rejecting that notion, stating,

Absolutely not. This does not mean any interference with my fighting career. I’ve still got a lot of time left in me. I just turned 34 last week, and I see myself going for another eight years, until I’m 42.

I’ve got a decent head on my shoulders and I’m comfortable in front of a camera, so this is a good fit for me, and I guess, in a sense, it will help set me up for my post fight career, but first and foremost, I’m a fighter, and that will always come first.

I’ll be transcribing the rest of this fantastic interview for our readers in a few hours, so keep an eye out for it.

Bisping: TRT is bullshit, somebody could get killed

Michael Bisping has summed up the drastic consequences that come with the misuse of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in MMA, and revealed he will demand to know before all of his future fights whether his opponent is on TRT.

Bisping, who may need surgery on a nerve problem in his neck, was beaten in his most recent outing by Vitor Belfort in a loss that derailed his middleweight title dream. He must now rebuild against Alan Belcher on April 27.

It was revealed after the fight that Belfort had been granted therapeutic use exemption for TRT, something Bisping did not know. Athletes in MMA are allowed to boost their testosterone levels if proven to be lower than the average, but some fighters abuse the system to take their levels way above that of a standard human being.

Bisping labels the use of TRT “absolute bullsh*t”, particularly in the case of a fighter like Belfort, who has failed drug tests in the past.

“I’ve said to my manager, ‘From now on, I want to know in advance if my opponent is on TRT’,” Bisping told ESPN. “I don’t want to know afterwards, I want to know before. If they are, I want his levels looked at properly, maybe by my own doctor or somebody independent, to see if it’s needed. If it’s not needed, he needs to come off it.

“A normal person’s testosterone is 1:1. They’re allowed to be 6:1. That’s 6:1. It’s bollocks. It’s dressed up cheating. It’s a very clever way to manipulate the system. I don’t agree with it, period.”

Explaining how TRT can give a fighter an unfair edge, Bisping said: “Apparently it makes your muscles bigger and makes you stronger. But the main thing is the training camp, you recover a lot better. I train hard Monday and Tuesday, by Wednesday my body is killing. So Wednesday you can’t train as hard and as the week progresses you get worse and worse. The weekend comes, you say ‘Thank God’, you take two days off and then go again.

“If you’re on testosterone, you can train like a madman every session.

“But my boxing coach said something recently and he’s right, it’s not just the physical side of things, it’s mental as well. You’ve got all these stresses, training camp, three kids… all these things, the other guy is doing the same thing but he has extra testosterone. So these stresses are somewhat alleviated.”

Bisping questioned why Belfort, who had been found guilty of taking steroids in the past, was allowed to boost his testosterone levels – which had likely been lowered as a result of his past misdemeanours.

“It’s nonsense, this is a guy who failed a drug test in the past, and only a small portion of people in the world suffer from low testosterone – hypogonadism. But a high percentage of UFC fighters seem to be on TRT. Why? Because the side effects of taking steroids is that you stop producing your own testosterone. So they’ve abused steroids in the past, they don’t produce it themselves, so now they qualify for TRT.

“It’s allowing cheats to continue cheating. It’s nonsense. This isn’t baseball or football. We’re hurting each other. Why aren’t footballers allowed to take TRT? But you’re allowing fighters? Fighters who could potentially kill somebody? It’s wrong on so many levels and it’s absolute bullsh*t.”

Michael Bisping responds to Vitor Belfort’s controversial TRT exemption

When the news came out on Wednesday that Vitor Belfort had been given a testosterone use exemption for using the drug as therapy before his Jan. 19 victory over Michael Bisping in Sao Paulo, Brazil, it was the most controversial public revelation of an issuance thus far.

It has always been whispered, and in some cases even shouted, that the increasing volume of testosterone use exemptions in MMA has been due to the number of athletes whose systems have been damaged by previous steroid use. But since the current testing procedures likely catch only a small percentage of users, when names publicly come out that have been approved for TRT, there has almost never been any tangible proof the athlete in question had used steroids in the past.

But in the case of Belfort, there was such proof with a previously failed steroid test in Nevada and a subsequent suspension.

Still, the news wasn’t surprising at all. Rumors abounded around the time of UFC 152, when it came out that one of the fighters was given an exemption, but the name was never released. Belfort’s own beat-around-the bush answer when asked about rumors of such use before the fight three weeks ago in an ESPN.com interview only served to heighten the suspicion. For those following the story, when he took off his shirt before the Bisping fight, it was almost like thumbing the nose in the face of those concerned about the direction and future of the sport.

In theory, the idea of medical testosterone replacement therapy is to take someone who, for whatever reason, has damaged their system to the extent that it no longer produces a healthy amount of testosterone, and gets them back to average levels and not the top allowable levels. There are legitimate medical uses for such therapy, including among men who were heavy steroid users for years. The question is not whether they should be allowed to use the drug in question for their health, but whether they truly need it since athletes have been conning doctors on this subject for years, and more so, should be allowed to compete in a sport that involves physical damage to the opponent while on it.

Then there is the sticky point. A very small percentage of men under the age of 40 naturally produce low enough levels of testosterone that it can be deemed unhealthy. Testosterone replacement therapy has gotten far more coverage in MMA than almost any other sport. Perhaps because the media in that sport is either more concerned, or has its head buried less in the sand than those in other sports. But there are guidelines in most sports very similar to those used by the UFC and the various state athletic commissions.

For Bisping, three of his five career losses have been to fighters that it has publicly come out were using TRT, Dan Henderson in 2009, Chael Sonnen in 2012, and Belfort. They were the three most important fights of his career, as in each case, the winner was to be in line for a middleweight championship match. There is no guarantee he would have won any, let alone all of those fights, if the opponent wasn’t using. But it is impossible not to consider the possibility in every case.

In his case, the losses have cost him literally millions of dollars.

Bisping was in England shooting a movie after the Belfort fight, and returned home to Southern California inundated with interview requests. The irony of this case is, long before Bisping signed for this fight, he was one of the company’s most outspoken critics of TRT. Plus, nobody had made him aware before the fight that he would be going against someone approved for the drug. But the reality is, while never confirmed, it is also impossible that Bisping didn’t go into the fight without a fairly strong suspicion that was the case.

Still, he lost, decisively and didn’t want to come across as a crybaby, nor did he want to dwell on the loss when he has another fight coming up.

On Friday night, he released a statement on his web site:

As I said right after the fight, I lost because I made a mistake and Vitor took advantage of it. It sucks. I don’t like it, but that was the result. I lost. Bottom line.

Over the past couple years, and even right before the fight, I have made my views on TRT very, very clear. I don’t feel that I need to go into depth about it again right now. All I have to add, about this specific instance, is that it is very disappointing that someone who was caught cheating with testosterone in the past, now gets to use testosterone legally. A well known side effect of steroids is that it reduces testosterone, so I don’t understand how it would make sense to then grant someone an exemption to then increase testosterone.

All that being said, I am not here to make excuses or cry over spilled milk. I fight in the best organization in the world, The UFC, and am very excited to work and earn a title fight, the right way. That process starts by whooping Alan Belcher’s ass at UFC 159 on Saturday, April 27th, live on PPV.

Thanks everyone for their support – can’t wait to spend some time with British UFC fans in London next week and I will be back, better than ever.

The idea that it’s not fair to not allow exemptions, or is necessary, is contradicted in of all places by the pro wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment. The company, which had its own long-term history of issues with steroids, allowed its performers use of TRT when it restarted its drug testing program in 2006. But it has since all but banned usage. This came after the death of Chris Benoit, whose endocrine system was damaged, likely from nearly two decades of steroid use. Upon his death, a suicide, after he had murdered both his wife and young son in a well-publicized case, it was discovered in his autopsy that he had roughly five times the amount of testosterone in his system as he should have had taking to get him back to normal. It was all legally prescribed to him by what is known in that profession as a “mark doctor,” someone who prescribes to celebrities what they want.

It would be incredibly naive to believe the “mark doctor” types that were prevalent in pro wrestling, as well as in football and likely numerous other sports, don’t exist in MMA, particularly for top tier fighters or some of the most successful camps. And therein lies the problem. We’ve already seen the embarrassing testimony of doctors for Chael Sonnen and Alistair Overeem at commission meetings, so to simply accept that because someone got a prescription that everything is kosher is beyond naive.

In the case of WWE, the company made the decision going forward to allow TRT for men under contract who had similar system damage, but would no longer allow it for any new performers, or grant future exemptions. If a cosmetic-based business, where their jobs are to not damage their opponent, can do such a thing, then one questions why a business where the prime objective is to physically damage an opponent in a fight, can’t protect its clean athletes to the same level.

There are a number of problems in MMA regarding the use. The first is whether it gives a participant an unfair advantage. The idea that getting one back to normal limits should be no more of a competitive advantage in theory than knee surgery that allows someone to get back strength and functionality in that joint. But in fact, that may not be the case.

Nate Marquardt, the only other fighter that it has publicly come out is on TRT who has a failed steroid test in his past, was given an exemption by the state of New Jersey for his 2011 fight with Dan Miller. In getting his exemption, he had to agree to follow up testing.

Prior to his next fight, scheduled against Rick Story in Pennsylvania, he was surprised with a test by New Jersey, which showed him significantly over the top limit of allowable testosterone. The idea of such therapy should only get you to normal levels, not well above top levels, or more than double average levels. He couldn’t even get a reading under the top limit days later after stopping usage, and was not allowed to fight. But in his case, it was a fluke that he was caught. Pennsylvania, the state he was fighting in, was not going to test him until after the fight.

There is likely a percentage of fighters who would need this therapy to function that did not develop hypogonadism, the clinical name for a body that produces low testosterone and that never used steroids. The ethical question surrounding Belfort, as well as Marquardt, is should this be allowed for damage one has done by previous steroid use. The problem is, it is virtually impossible to prove what caused the problem, or to say without question it was steroid use.

Where Belfort is a lighting rod is that his long career in the sport has shown him having marked physical changes.

He went from a nearly 230-pound teenage heavyweight who looked almost like a competitive bodybuilder to a very normal looking 185-pounder over the course of his career. Then, for the Jan. 19 fight with Bisping, he was noticeably more muscular than he had been in years, to the point professional fighters on twitter were outright making accusations from the moment he took his shirt off before the fight started.

There would be a lot less talk if a fighter on TRT showed up looking similar to other fighters as opposed to looking like one perceives a steroid abuser to look. When the opposite happens, questions naturally arise.

http://www.mmafighting.com/2013/2/9/3970056/michael-bisping-responds-to-vitor-belforts-controversial-trt-exemption

Michael Bisping vs Alan Belcher co-main event for UFC 159 in New Jersey

A middleweight bout between Michael Bisping (23-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Alan Belcher (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) will serve as the co-headliner of April’s UFC 159 event.

MMAjunkie.com(www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the bout with UFC officials following an initial report fromESPN.com.

UFC 159 takes place April 27 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The main card, including a headliner between light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Bisping and Belcher both look to rebound from recent high-profile losses that hurt their title chances.

Bisping headlined UFC on FX 7 earlier this month and suffered a second-round TKO loss to Vitor Belfort. The Brit was on a 5-1 run before the setback, and UFC President Dana White had promised him a title shot if victorious. Although “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner has proven one of the best 185-pounders in the sport today, the Belfort loss marked his second defeat in a title eliminator.

Belcher, meanwhile, was on a four-fight win streak (with four stoppages) before a unanimous-decision loss to former title challenger Yushin Okami at UFC 155. The well-rounded fighter had picked up wins over the likes of Rousimar Palhares and Patrick Cote before the lopsided unanimous-decision defeat to Okami. It was his first loss since UFC 100 in 2009.

http://www.mmajunkie.com/news/2013/01/michael-bisping-vs-alan-belcher-co-headlines-ufc-159-in-new-jersey