Manchester-born middleweight Michael Bisping (26-7) takes on 9th-ranked Brazilian Thales Leites (25-4) in the main event at UFC Fight Night 72 in Glasgow on July 18. The event sold-out within hours, but I managed to catch up with the Count a few weeks ago on behalf of a magazine I work for to gauge his mood on the eve of the biggest fight in his recent history. As ever, he was in fine form.
How do you feel about facing Leites?
It's a logical match-up. Thales is on a five-fight win streak in the UFC and looking really good. He's fought for the title before, and being a Brazilian jujitsu world champion he's very dangerous on the floor. But I feel I can stop the takedowns, and if I do that then it makes his jujitsu redundant. I'm by far the better kick boxer and the better striker on the feet. He does swing, though! I'm expecting a tough fight, but I'm also expecting to win.
You have a reputation for getting under the skin of your opponents. Is there any history between you?
None whatsoever. Never met the guy, nothing bad to say about him. The only thing I have to say is that I'm going to punch him in the face repeatedly until he falls down, and he isn't going to get back up. Other than that, I wish him all the best with his training and may the best man win in Glasgow.
That's very diplomatic, Michael. Does fighting in Glasgow give you the upper hand?
Ultimately, when two professionals meet I don't really see the location as being a defining factor. If you're a psychologically weak fighter maybe it would be. But if you're a seasoned pro, it doesn't really come into it. Of course, being the favourite always helps. If you're not then people boo you. I've always done a good job of blocking that out and focusing on my opponent, and I'm sure he'll be able to do the same thing.
Will your fans make fighting in Glasgow like fighting in Manchester?
I think so. Hopefully, I don't live to eat those words! The reaction we've got from the Scottish UFC fans has been great. I get a lot of support on social media from them and I know they are excited for the fight. It's the first time the UFC has gone to Scotland, so we are making history. Traditionally, England and Scotland have always been rivals, but when it's all said and done I think I'll get their support.
Who do you like to watch at the moment?
Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Robbie Lawler. The welterweight division is stacked. The Liverpool lad Darren Till looked unbelievable in his UFC debut, and he seems like quite a character. Away from that Jon Jones, as controversial as he is, is always exciting to watch. There's no shortage of fighting talent in the UFC, that's what makes it such a great organisation and that's why I'm so proud to be a part of it.
It seems like only a few weeks since you beat TJ Dollaway on points at UFC 186...
Yeah, I wanted a quick turnaround. I was already booked to fight Dollaway, but when I found about the Scotland card I really wanted to be on it. I expressed my opinion, and fortunately that's how it's turned out.
Is it easier either physically or mentally to have two quick fights back-to-back?
I think it helps massively. Not only mentally, but I've also kept my weight down, which always a big issue with any fighter preparing for a fight. My weight is already very low, so I've been able to maintain my strength and recovery throughout the training camp because I was able to eat the right foods. In the past, I'd have to cut out the majority of carbs.
What is your prediction for the fight?
Obviously, Thales is going to come out and try to take me down. I'm going to stop that happening. Even if he's successful, I'll be pretty effective at getting back to my feet. I'll wear him down and as the fight progresses he's going to get more and more frustrated. When he starts swinging wild punches, he's going to leave more opportunities for me to counter. That's when I'll go for the finish.
UFC Fight Night 72 takes place on July 18 at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow. For more information about this and future events, go to:Suggest a correction