by Mitch Gobetz, MMAWeekly.com
Speculation has turned to confirmation as Michael “The Count” Bisping has officially made the decision to drop to the middleweight division according to UFC.com. The season three light heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter has done well for himself following the reality show, but Bisping had tasted his first defeat last month to fellow Ultimate Fighter winner Rashad Evans.
There had been some reports suggesting that Bisping was a little small for the light heavyweight division, and that he had been contemplating a move for a while. Apparently, Dana White thought that the move to 185 lbs. would be a benefit for Bisping. “Dana thought it was a great idea, he said I’d be ‘a monster’ down at middleweight. In fact all sorts of people like Rampage (with whom Bisping is close) were telling me this was the best thing for my career. Really, I knew middleweight was the place to be. When I went to train with Rampage in America over the summer, when we’d go eat he’d have half a lettuce leaf; I’d have a pizza or a couple of foot-long Subways and a couple of sneaky cookies.”
“Even though I train as hard, if not harder, than anyone else for a fight, I wasn’t making sacrifices like other fighters do. I’ve had world class nutritionists like (boxer) Ricky Hatton’s strength coach Kerry Kayes tell me I could be so much stronger at middleweight, so I was getting this same advise from all sides.”
Bisping will add depth to the middleweight division, which many experts believe is probably the weakest division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. With Anderson Silva scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in the near future, there are not many solid contenders after that fight transpires. With Silva demolishing the likes of Rich Franklin, Chris Leben and Nate Marquardt, a couple wins for Bisping could be a fast track to a title shot.
Even though Bisping had lost to Evans, he claims that it is not the only reason for the move. “I didn’t feel like I lost anything in defeat,” Bisping said. “I felt I performed very well against one of the best wrestlers in the UFC in Rashad. I regret not pushing it a little harder in the last round but, overall, I can’t complain about a controversial loss because I was coming off a controversial win. My performance again made me go back and forth about going to middleweight but, in the end, this is my career and how I make a living, and although it isn’t that I can’t hack it at 205 pounds, it doesn’t make sense to give every opponent an advantage if I don’t have to.”
No dates or opponents have been named for Bisping as of yet, but whoever the UFC matches him up with will certainly have their work cut out for them.