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Bisping: Belfort only knocks out 'easy bait'

ESPN staff
January 17, 2013 « Finn: Playing in India can be carnage | Chartbeat test »
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Michael Bisping has questioned the fear factor that surrounds knockout specialist Vitor Belfort, claiming the Brazilian's MMA record is not as frightening as it appears on the surface.

Bisping takes on Belfort in Saturday's main event, hoping to secure the win that books him a middleweight title shot with Anderson Silva.

Belfort is known for his heavy punching power and fast hands, but Bisping insists the Phenom's record needs to be scrutinised. His most recent knockout victims are Yoshihiro Akiyama and Rich Franklin, men Bisping claims are not difficult to hit.

"I don't want to discredit Vitor Belfort, or discredit his previous opponents, but they've been quite easy bait," the Brit told ESPN.

"His biggest win at middleweight was when he knocked out Rich Franklin, and while Rich Franklin is a great fighter, he's a sloppy striker. He throws punches from strange angles and is all over the place, which makes him easy to hit. He got knocked out by Cung Le for crying out loud!

"Yoshihiro Akiyama's another one. I've fought Akiyama and, while I didn't knock him out, I hit him about a million times. I guarantee you he had a f***ing headache the next day.

"Those guys are easy to hit. I'm much more elusive. Having said that, it's not just about being elusive, it's a fight and I've got to hit him back. I plan on mixing it up. I'll strike with him, take him down, ground-and-pound… whatever it takes, I'm ready to beat him in all areas.

"But if anyone thinks I'm underestimating him they can think again. I've never underestimated an opponent in my life. I know it's going to be tough, but I truly believe now is my time. If he beats me, fair play to him, because he'll have beaten a very good version of me."

Bisping knows the greatest danger will be the opening exchanges when both men are stood toe-to-toe, but he insists the work done with coach Jason Parillo will pay off in the biggest moment of his career.

"Training camp has gone fantastic. I know all fighters say this, but I am definitely the best version of myself that I've ever been. My jiu-jitsu's better, my wrestling's better, my boxing…you'll see it on the night, I've made huge advances there in the head movement department.

"I've been working with a new boxing coach, Jason Parillo, for the last few camps but it takes a while for what he shows you to translate from the gym into fights. I'm moving very differently, my head movement's improved, my punching power's improved and I'm a lot more fluid with my punches.

"Mentally I'm great, physically I'm great, I did 25 minutes of sparring this week with very very good guys, big guys, and I didn't even get punched once. They didn't land one glove."

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