Michael Bisping produced one of the best performances of his career last night at UFC 120 by defeating Yoshihiro Akiyama over three rounds of action in front of his home fans.
The fight could have taken a different turn though early in the fight when the UK fighter was hit by a hard shot, and he admits that the blow did take a toll on him.
“Oh yeah, it definitely landed. I was rocked, definitely, there’s no two ways about it. It was a good shot, he hits hard, he swing, he’s a good fighter. He got my right off the bat with a big shot. Like Dana said, I had to keep my composure and keep fighting.”
As in his fight with Denis Kang in which he was also rocked early in the first round, Bisping did indeed remain compsed, but what those watching didn’t know was that he was suffering some serious side-effects from the punch.
“For most of the first round, from this side of my face I couldn’t see anything, could not see anything on this side, and the little I could see was all blurred and double vision. But, that’s what you got to do – comes with the territory I suppose.”
The subject of punching power, or lackthereof, often seems to crop up when Bisping’s name is mentioned, and again that was the case last night. Bisping did his best to shrug it off, but it’s clearly something that irritates him.
“He’s a tough guy, a very, very tough guy. Chris Leben [Akiyama’s last opponent] hits hard, you know…I know what you’re all trying to get at. You think I can’t punch…trust me – ask Akiyama if I can punch. Hopefully the next one’s going to go down. We’ll see what happens.”
Knockout or not, Bisping feels he’s now in the prime of his career and now has his eyes firmly set on a title shot, though he realizes that to do that means claiming a big scalp in the middleweight division.
“Obviously, ultimately that’s up to the UFC, but you know I feel I’m growing as a fighter. I said it leading up to the fight, I feel like I’m really maturing now, everything’s coming together with my skill-set, etc, etc. And now I’m ready – if I can’t do it now I’m never going to do it. I feel now’s my time.
“I had a good fight against Miller, I was relatively happy tonight. I nearly put him away but never quite managed to do it. But still, a win’s a win, it was a good win. I want to fight another top guy, whoever it is, I want to fight the best out there. I think one more win against a real credible opponent, that should get me a title shot…but obviously it’s not up to me is it.”