The following is provided courtesy of UFC.com:
Hi everyone, the Count here. I’ve been asked to do another series of “The Count-down” for UFC.com. I really enjoyed doing this before my UFC 70 fight with Elvis Sinosic but couldn’t do it before my UFC 75 fight, as I trained out in the remote mountains in Big Bear, California, where we didn’t have an internet connection.
Over the next few weeks I’ll keep you up to date with how my preparations are going for the biggest fight in my career vs Rashad Evans at UFC 78: VALIDATION in New Jersey.
IT’S HAMMER TIME! OH, NO, ACTUALLY IT ISN’T
Don’t know if you heard or read anything about my last fight? It was with a guy named Matt Hamill? I won on split decision? Not everyone agreed with the judges’ scorecards? Ring any bells, anyone?
Seriously, a lot of people were looking forward to the rematch between myself and Matt but let me tell you, no-one was looking forward to it more than me. I felt I won the fight but didn’t perform to the best of my ability, so I told the UFC I wanted the rematch as soon as possible – and was ecstatic when the UFC informed me the fight was going to take place at UFC 78 on November 17.
I was especially happy that the fight was going to take place in America, because one of the things that has been said since UFC 75 is that I got a “hometown decision”, despite the fact the one British judge scored the fight for Hamill and the two American judges both had identical scores for me.
Anyway – I was really looking forward to the rematch and hit the gym hard, determined to really perform in the second fight.
However, my excitement quickly disintegrated as Matt Hamill decided to have surgery on his knee rather than take the fight on the November date. When I heard of his decision I was disappointed and was actually very deflated for a few days. I felt I was over-trained for the first fight and really wanted to get back in the Octagon ASAP – so I let the UFC know that I’d still be in the gym on the off-chance they could find another opponent for me for UFC 78.
It was actually really good, training on just fitness, and working drills with no specific opponent or style to train for so, fingers firmly crossed, I kept training as if I was definitely going to fight at UFC 78.
Then I got a call from my manger Anthony McGann saying he’d received an email from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. Joe said there was an opponent for me – Rashad Evans!
I was surprised, as you can imagine. I’d heard, like a lot of fans probably had, that Rashad was fighting Tito Ortiz at UFC 78 so I was very surprised to be offered the fight. I jumped at the chance – I told Anthony to get that contract in front of me ASAP.
It is exactly the kind of fight I wanted and had been working towards this past year – Rashad’s a well respected, undefeated fighter who is coming off a draw with Ortiz, he’s proved himself to be a top tier light heavyweight and this is a great match-up between us.
The chance to main event a UFC is a great honour and there was no hesitation in my mind to take the fight. My job is to fight, and not to tell the UFC who I want to fight, where I want to fight ‘em and on which card I am prepared to do it and which ones I’m not.
Rashad is my toughest fight so far, for sure. He a very explosive athlete, a great wrestler and he looks to be getting better with each fight. He’s also a great guy – we did some PR together in England in May and he is fun to hang out with. The fact he went to a draw with Tito Ortiz shows that he’s in the top tier in the division and I can’t wait to match up against him.
I had a great summer training camp for UFC 75 over at Big Bear with my mate Rampage (alright lad!) and great partners like Brandon Vera, but for this fight I’m staying in England for my camp, training at the Wolf’s Lair MMA Academy. With only six weeks’ notice I didn’t want to waste even a day acclimatizing or getting used to another time zone – nothing like that – so I’m preparing with my usual team in Runcorn, northern
GENTLEMAN JARDINE GETS ALL MEAN
Let me first say I have met Keith Jardine and he’s every bit the gentleman he is made out to be. He is so well spoken it is hard to imagine him as the
fighter who just beat Chuck Liddell. I don’t want to use the word “gentleman” again – but that’s the perfect way to describe him.
But I have to say I was a little surprised to read an interview with him saying Rashad shouldn’t have to fight me because Rashad has established himself in the division and I am just an up and comer.
The fact is, I’m fighting Rashad because Tito Ortiz refused the fight. I know Keith and Rashad are very close friends and Keith is just trying to look out for his mate, but this attitude of “I’m too good and too big a star to have to fight so and so” is exactly the attitude which led to Keith getting knocked out by Houston Alexander. Light heavyweight is a stacked division and Keith himself is one of the fighters who has proved that anyone has a shot of victory on the night.
Keith and Rashad were on the series of the Ultimate Fighter before I was. They beat me to the UFC by one series of TUF, that’s it. They are both doing very well and delivered when their time came to step up. Now it is my turn to step up and show what I’ve got.
Rashad starts as the favourite in a lot of people’s minds, but I love challenges.
I am prepared for the hardest, toughest fight of my entire career. I am expecting nothing else but war when I get to New Jersey – don’t “Count” me out!
The sport continues to grow over here in the UK faster and faster. Just a couple of weeks ago the UFC arranged for Granada News from ITV (network TV in the UK) to come to the Wolf’s Lair to watch me train.
ITV sent a young reporter to the gym to learn more about the sport, and to be fair to him, he came with a very open mind, asked some great questions and seemed extremely interested in the grappling aspect of the sport.
In front of the cameras, I did my best to demonstrate a few BJJ holds – triangle, armbar etc – and explaining how and why the holds work. ITV left the gym extremely happy with the footage and we were all looking forward to a very positive piece.
Before they left they said what they’d got on camera would go a long way to help kill some of the old clichés about “human cockfighting” that some people in the mainstream media still have.
However, a lot of that rolling footage never saw the light of day as the editor of the news programme felt that showing BJJ moves would “glorify violence”.
Even though they showed some great footage of other aspects of MMA training – me working the pads and heavy bags, things like that – and showed an interview with myself and UFC UK Division President Marshall Zelaznik, it is a little disappointing that this kind of thing still happens.
It is especially strange considering that, the very evening before they came to the gym, ITV news had run a story on boxing showing people getting punched on the very same show.
It is all part of the education process, I guess. We will get there, but a big part of the process is MMA fans writing in to their local TV station and newspapers asking to see MMA covered. Fighter or fan, we’re all ambassadors for our sport.
Until next week, check out my website www.bisping.tv where you can watch training footage and get all the latest info on my camp.