In the world of mixed martial arts, fighters are often cast in the role of hero or villain.
There’s of course always a middle ground, but there are also fighters like UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who definitely have more fans on their side than detractors.
For every Batman in the sport like St-Pierre, there has to be a Joker ready to take over the world. Enter Michael Bisping.
The brash Brit who has never apologized for saying the things he says or doing the things he does, might be running neck and neck alongside Josh Koscheck for most hated fighter in the UFC.
But for all the boos that are showered upon Bisping when he walks into an arena, is he deserving of such disdain or is he misunderstood by the general fight public?
While it won’t likely gain him any more favor with the fans, simply put, Michael Bisping doesn’t give a damn what you think about him.
“I don’t know, I couldn’t really care less. I’m not going to sit here and say hey I’m misunderstood. Like I give a (expletive),” Bisping told MMAWeekly Radio. “I am who I am, and I’ll be who I’ve always been. A lot of what I say, it’s tongue in cheek. Maybe it’s the English sense of humor or whatever, but some guys get so pissed off at some of the things I say and it’s like, you don’t realize I was having a laugh. A lot of what you see on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ it’s locker room banter, and surely guys out there you’d think they’d understand these things. If they don’t that’s not my problem. I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it.
“If some idiot on the internet that’s still going through puberty thinks that I’m a douche bag, I’m not really going to lose any sleep over that.”
Much like Koscheck does when fans boo him with everything they have at an event, Bisping relishes his role as the bad guy.
“I walked into the Honda Center for the UFC on Fox event, and when I walked out I got a huge boo, a massive boo. I thought it was hilarious,” Bisping commented. “For anyone that was there and saw it, thousands of people all booing, but it was kind of a pantomime thing. I just laughed my head off. I embraced it.”
For all the things that are said about Bisping in the public eye, he says that he’s just always being himself. Take that as him being a jerk or him just being honest, Bisping on television or in interviews is the same guy that walks down the street or goes into the store to by a loaf of bread.
Maybe that’s something about Bisping that should be applauded, because as he points out, there are quite a few fighters in the UFC who will happily smile in your face and then stab you in the back as soon as you turn away.
“I could name quite a few fighters that I’ve seen do things that for lack of a better word were (expletive), but as soon as the camera comes on the fake smile comes out. I’m not like that,” Bisping said.
While fans may jeer him every chance they get, Bisping loves meeting UFC supporters at events, signings, and other appearances.
Say what you will about the former Ultimate Fighter winner, but Bisping doesn’t think of himself as some sort of celebrity that’s above anybody. As a matter of fact, he challenges you to find a fan that had a bad experience meeting him because, for all his bravado and tendency to get under his opponent’s skin, Bisping is just a fighter who loves his job.
“I’ll challenge you to find a fan that’s had a bad experience (meeting me) other than if I’ve been late for a meeting or just had a huge argument with my girlfriend or something,” Bisping joked.
“Go out and find anybody that’s said ‘oh I met him and he was a dick’. I always take the time to meet and mingle with the fans. I don’t look at it as a responsibility, I enjoy it. I can’t believe that people want to come up and speak with me and get a picture. As long as the people I interact with, as long as they’re happy that’s all that matters.”
Bisping doesn’t expect the fans to come around to his side any time soon, and that’s fine by him. He’ll keep winning fights, they’ll keep booing, and he’ll happily feed off the energy to continue his run towards a middleweight title shot.