Michael Bisping vows to give Anderson Silva “zero respect once that cage door shuts.” Two months before that gate closes the mouthy Mancunian gave Silva very little respect on the conference call promoting their February 27 London bout.
Like picking at a scab, Bisping repeatedly invoked Silva’s drug-test failure for his bout with Nick Diaz almost one year ago. It made his adversary uncomfortable and on his heels, something Bisping hopes to do once the warfare transitions from words to punches.
“The fact the matter is Anderson Silva tested positive for not one, not two, but three banned substances,” the 27-7 middleweight noted. “I lost a lot of respect for him for that.”
The former champion awkwardly, and unsuccessfully, parried Bisping’s verbal blows.
“What it boils down to is I took a supplement that was contaminated,” Silva insisted. “My conscience is clear. I never purposefully took any banned substances.”
Bisping wasn’t buying it.
“To be quite frank, I’m blown away by his arrogance,” the British mixed-martial artist divulged. “How on earth do you expect me not to mention that he tested positive for three banned substances?”
Bisping noted that fighters giving Silva an excess of deference led to them losing before even entering the cage. The 33-6 Silva vanquished Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and Demian Maia in his heyday. And his mystique often overwhelmed opponents. So, the Count’s constant reminders of the most shameful period in the career of a fighter once heralded as the sport’s all-time best perhaps represents a gamesmanship of sorts. But it’s also clear that he does not lie when he says that the subject gets him “emotional.”
He names Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, and Wanderlei Silva as past opponents who defeated him only to face questions regarding performance-enhancing drugs. The 36-year-old Brit vowed to never again face a drug cheat. But when the opportunity arose to replace Gegard Mousasi with Anderson Silva as an opponent, he jumped at it. He calls the O2 Arena bout a “bucket-list fight.” And he’s grateful that the UFC’s strict new anti-drug policy looks like it’s working. “When you look at a lot of fighters now,” he points out, “you see a different physique.”
Silva essentially notes that his sinewy physique never transformed into the Incredible Hulk’s. He never looked like a body builder. He always looked like Anderson Silva.
“I committed an error,” the fading 40-year-old allows. “I’m definitely not a saint. I committed an error.”
But Bisping sees it less as a one-off mistake than a permanent defect in his opponent’s soul.
“At the end of the day,” he posited, “if you take performance-enhancing drugs, you are a coward.”