It’s a fight that probably should have happened a few years ago.
Both Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping, now set to meet in a February epic in London on UFC FIGHT PASS, admitted as much on a media conference call on Tuesday morning.
But even in 2016, the star power that both Silva and Bisping bring has fans giddy with excitement. And for the winner, a huge opportunity awaits.
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“I feel like this fight probably should have happened some time before, but now it’s finally happening,” Silva said through an interpreter. “I think it’s a great opportunity for myself and Michael Bisping to put on a great performance for everyone around the world.”
Bisping has long admired Silva for his accomplishments inside the Octagon. But the brash Englishman has also always felt that if given the chance, he’d be able to beat the Brazilian icon.
“Of course I wanted to fight him (Silva) he was the champion, but this really is for me the biggest fight outside of a world title fight right now." -- Michael Bisping
“Of course I wanted to fight him when he was the champion, but this really is for me the biggest fight outside of a world title fight right now. Anderson is still a massive name and a huge draw, and I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter,” Bisping said. “I always wanted to show the world that I could beat Anderson and I know I can. I get to do that in February.”
When Silva last stepped into the Octagon – at UFC 183 in January of 2015 against Nick Diaz – he was just happy to be able to compete. After two losses against Chris Weidman, surrendering the championship belt he held for so long in the process, Silva understandably was just happy to be back.
But now Silva has a renewed motivation. He’s eyeing the title he lost in 2013 and feels with a win over Bisping he’ll position himself for another run at the top prize.
“Over the past two years in my career I’ve had some bumps in the road and some adversities to overcome, but I’m very motivated and focused on bringing the belt back to Brazil,” Silva said. “I’m very motivated to come back and prove that I’m still one of the best.”
Bisping watched as Silva and Diaz did battle and thinks Silva is a beatable fighter. The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 winner acknowledges that Silva has done great things, and “captured the imagination with some of his striking techniques,” but “The Count” has always believed he could beat “The Spider.”
“If you break it down and go through his career, a lot of the fighters – they weren’t all that. Patrick Cote, Stephen Bonnar – some of these wins (By Silva) weren’t necessarily the best wins ever,” Bisping said. “(Anderson) fights Chris Weidman and he lost twice. Against Nick Diaz he looked very beatable.
“Yes, of course, he had some moments in the Diaz fight where he looked explosive and he looked sharp. But when I watch that fight I see a very beatable fighter. I don’t see that he’s slowed down or anything like that; I’ve just always thought I could beat him.”
Silva said he’s taking motivation from the fact that many are counting him out at 40 years old. When something seems impossible, the former champ likes to try and beat the odds.
Bisping thinks he holds the advantage because he won’t allow Silva to beat him mentally before the fight.
“I have to utilize a lot of movement, fight my fight, and take it to him. A lot of people, when they fought Anderson, they were scared of him – they were beaten mentally before the fight even started,” Bisping said. “I’m signing this contract to fight this guy to beat him; to knock him out; to end his career. I’m going to give him zero respect once that cage door shuts.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC