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Bisping: I'll turn Belfort into a punching bag

ESPN staff
November 29, 2012 « Beckham considering Premier League offers | Chartbeat test »
Michael Bisping wants to make light work of Vitor Belfort © Getty Images
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Michael Bisping believes Vitor Belfort will be made to look like a 'punching bag' when the two meet in the Octagon at UFC on FX 7 in January.

Bisping is looking to cement his place as the No. 1 contender for Anderson Silva's middleweight title in the January 19 match against Belfort - who is stepping down from light-heavyweight. And the Brit, who is still searching for a first title shot after 17 fights in the UFC, believes the Brazilian is in for a beating on his home turf of Sao Paulo.

"Far be it from me to look past Vitor," said Bisping. "I'm trying to make this fight more significant.

"I'm concerned that I've got my hands full. It's not going to be easy. We're fighting in Brazil. He hits hard. But I think I'll weather the storm and he'll become a punching bag."

Belfort has a reputation for tiring quickly over the course of his fights, and Bisping believes he will be presented with plenty of openings if he can negotiate what is likely to be a high tempo first round.

"It's well documented, rightly or wrongly, that Vitor gasses quickly," the Brit added. "He does slow down after the first round. Obviously, early for me is going to be the most dangerous. The longer the fight goes, he'll start turning into a walking punching bag. At least that's the plan. It's easier said than done.

"He's going to come out hard and fast, and he will be dangerous. He's a big middleweight. But these are the kind of fights I'm going to take if I want to back up my talking."

Even if Bisping does do a number on Belfort, it remains doubtful whether a title match against Silva will immediately be forthcoming. Silva stepped up to light-heavyweight for his last bout, while a catchweight meeting with Georges St-Pierre has been widely mooted for 2013.

Bisping is concerned Silva will not fight in the division he dominates for a number of months - leading him to suggest an interim belt should be awarded.

"Regarding Anderson, I surely don't want an easy road to the championship," said Bisping. "His last fight was at light-heavyweight. His next fight is going to be at a catchweight. When will be fight at middleweight? What if he gets injured and has to be on the sidelines? All that time will have passed.

"All the fighters at the top of the middleweight division are on the sidelines. We all want to be world champion some day. We work so hard and strive for it.

"It's not there if Anderson isn't defending the title. I'm not knocking him. He's the greatest fighter we have. But a champion needs to defend the title or he needs to vacate it. And when he comes back to middleweight, he should get an automatic shot. Or they should create an interim title.

"The division is more stacked than it's ever been but the champion isn't defending the belt."

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