by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
“The Ultimate Fighter” season three winner Michael Bisping is prepared for the fight of his life this Saturday, and he’d better be, because standing on the other side of the cage from him at Ultimate Fighting Championship 78 will be season two winner Rashad Evans.
In addition to being crowned champions at the end of their respective seasons of the popular reality series, both Bisping and Evans have also accumulated impressive undefeated professional records. In a recent airing of “UFC 78 Countdown” on Spike TV, Bisping said, “As they say, someone’s ‘0′ has got to go and Nov. 17, someone’s ‘0′ is going to go, and it’s not going to be mine.”
UFC 78 has been bathed in press coverage as, “The first time that two TUF champions have squared off in the cage,” but this fight has much more riding on it for the winner than mere bragging rights between seasons. In a recent statement, UFC president Dana White said, “They’re both undefeated … neither one of them want a blemish on that record … but more importantly, the winner of this fight gets knocked up into the top five light heavyweights in the world. It’s a big fight for these two.”
A top ten spot, let alone a top five spot, is an incredible achievement for any fighter competing in the UFC’s incredibly deep 205-pound class. Fighters like Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva, Forrest Griffin, Keith Jardine, Stephan Bonnar and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua are but a few of the gifted fighters competing in this division.
Bisping hopes that his name will soon be uttered alongside those greats if he pulls off a win over Rashad this weekend.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Rashad. Rashad’s a tough opponent … great wrestler, Ultimate Fighter 2 winner, and he looks to be improving with every fight. In his last fight with Tito Ortiz he fought to a draw, so that says a lot about his ability, but I feel I’ve got the tools to beat him.”
During his stint on season three, Bisping was a member of the victorious Team Ortiz. Although he was not always thrilled with Tito’s predilection of his teammate Matt Hamill, there is little argument that the skilled Brit improved many areas of his game because of the time spent in that house.
But as great as the achievement of winning “The Ultimate Fighter” is, for now, all other accomplishments of both fighters must be left behind. All that matters for their careers now is a victory on Nov. 17.
As Bisping said, “I’m looking forward to the fight and I’m ready to put the last fight behind me.”
In all of his pre-fight interviews, Bisping has yet to disagree with anyone that his upcoming fight with Evans will be his toughest to date. Don’t assume that he is coming into this fight deficient of confidence, though. He will be as prepared as ever both mentally and physically when he steps into the cage, and he has the utmost confidence that he will be the one who leaves the cage still undefeated.
Bisping stated, “It’s going to be an all-out war. I’m looking forward to it and may the best man win. Hopefully afterwards we can share a beer. Loser buys the drinks … so, I’m going to leave my wallet at home.”
What he does believe is of utmost importance for him in this fight is his level of conditioning. His Ultimate Fighter coach Tito Ortiz, one of the preeminent cardio machines in the business, no doubt schooled Bisping in this art, and fans can expect him to be prepared to go hard for 15 straight minutes against Evans.
“Cardio for this fight is paramount. I think Rashad; he’s probably physically a little bit stronger. He’s an explosive wrestler and I think he’s going to be looking for the takedown.”
Unlike Evans, Bisping won’t likely be looking for the takedown or the decision win, as he recently stated, “I always want to go out with the knockout or the submission.
“I’m training my ass off and I’m doing what I need to do to improve my game and to win this fight. I’m coming after you Rashad.”