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Bisping wary of illegal Belfort 'rabbit punches'

ESPN staff
November 11, 2012 « Match-winner Dzeko hopes Mancini gets message | Chartbeat test »
Michael Bisping is training for Vitor Belfort © Getty Images
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Michael Bisping has started the trash-talking with Vitor Belfort ahead of their January 19 main event, insisting he will have to be wary of illegal blows to the back of the head from the Brazilian.

Bisping and Belfort go toe-to-toe in a significant middleweight encounter at the start of 2013, with the Brit knowing he simply has to win if he is to hunt down champion Anderson Silva.

Belfort brings the threat of genuine knockout power against Bisping, having finished the likes of Rich Franklin and Yoshihiro Akiyama during his time in the UFC. However, the greatest thing Bisping fears is illegal punches - something Belfort was accused of against Akiyama.

"In my opinion, the hardest fight in the 185lb division, other than Anderson Silva, is Vitor Belfort," Bisping told The MMA Hour.

"He's a southpaw. I think that's one of the main things that complicate things because it changes up the striking. He's very good at jiu-jitsu, but that doesn't concern me. I don't think he's going to be looking to take me down and submit me.

"I think the main thing I've got to watch out for is punches to the back of the head. Got to watch out for those rabbit punches, because he does like to punch people in the back of the head."

If Bisping chalks up a victory over Belfort in January, to add to his triumph over Brian Stann, the Brit is adamant he will be bashing down the UFC's door for that shot at Silva.

"If I beat Vitor Belfort, I think there's no question that I'm the No. 1 contender," Bisping said. "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. I think I deserve it. If I beat Vitor, I deserve it. If I don't beat him, then I don't deserve to be in a title fight anyway."

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