Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva are in the homestretch for UFC FIGHT PASS main event in London on Feb. 27, and they hugged it out in front of cameras and reporters at the UFC Gym here on Thursday.
The lovefest didn’t last long. Bisping got the first verbal jab in a small exchange of words that had Silva smiling the whole time.
Bisping told the 40-year-old Silva not to take Viagra before the fight.
Silva, who knows much English but often uses a translator, was prepared for the war of words in English, saying he was older but smarter.
Bisping, who is 36, touched Silva’s face and rubbed the newly-grown beard that has plenty of grey hairs in it. Bisping told Silva he was too old. Silva reminded him he was a longtime champion, and Bisping said that was all on steroids.
Then Bisping turned away to walk into another room with an expletive for Silva.
Back and forth. In all, an expected encounter leading up to Silva’s first fight since his one-year suspension for failing tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
Both fighters worked out separately in the Octagon for fans and media, and when someone yelled to Bisping and asked what his message was for Silva, Bisping said: “Steroids are for cowards.”
In a media session afterward, Bisping continued with his rant about Silva -- the former UFC middleweight champion – as well as other fighters’ connection to PEDs.
“Anderson is a great fighter. He’s achieved many things. The fact of the matter is he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in his last fight,” Bisping said. “Apparently, that was the first time he’d been tested. That’s what he said. His words not mine.”
Silva didn’t appear bothered by Bisping’s comments about PEDs.
“Come on people,” Silva said through a translator, his manager, Ed Soares. “I’ve been in this sport a long time and people have said a lot of things. Once the Octagon door closes, it always changes.”
Silva didn’t counterpunch in his media session. Wearing his yellow “The Spider Rises Again” T-shirt, Silva simply smiled a lot, and teased Soares by continually touching his face while he was translating.
The Spider admitted he has thought about retiring because his family talks to him about it, but it’s not happening any time soon. He’ll be 41 in April.
“When I go to fight and we’re back together again everybody in the family says, ‘Dad, come on. Stop. Hello.’ I think three more years,” Silva said.
Silva has had some convincing to do with his family in order to get back in the Octagon.
“I sat down with my family and explained to them that as long as I’m physically good and happy doing it, I’ll continue to fight,” Silva said.
Bisping, who has never won a belt, described this FIGHT PASS exclusive matchup as “a huge fight.”
“The biggest fight of my career,” he said. “I’m returning to London. My first fight there for five-six years against the greatest of all-time, the legend that is Anderson Silva. Of course, this changes everything.”
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If he wins this fight, Bisping believes a championship bout should follow.
“If I win it will validate a lifetime of hard work and put me in a good position to contend for a belt. That’s what I’ve always wanted,” Bisping said. “It’s a desire that burns within me very strongly.
“I think when I beat Anderson Silva, (then) I’ve won four of my last five fights. I’ve been a perennial contender for 10 years in the UFC. This is my 11th year with the company. The only guy to beat me in my last five fights was the world champion. When I beat Anderson, I should get my damn title shot. Dana (White), come on.”
Bisping pointed in a camera’s direction when he directed that comment to the UFC president.
The outspoken Bisping has family in London and can’t wait to fight there again. He figured Silva would get the same respect from fans in London, but Bisping doesn’t respect Silva because of his past.
Jill Painter Lopez is a reporter for FOX Sports West in Los Angeles. She was an award-winning, longtime sports columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News and has worked for Time Warner Cable in L.A. She is also a contributor to the New York Times. Follow her on Twitter at @jillpainter