UFC middleweight fighter and unofficial UK MMA ambassador Michael “The Count” Bisping will be looking to make it two in a row when he takes on Japanese judo player Yoshihiro Akiyama this weekend in the main event of UFC 120. Bisping spoke with MMAWeekly.com recently and gave his thoughts on Akiyama as an opponent, his opponent training with Greg Jackson, and where he feels he is as a mixed martial artist.
Bisping’s opponent, Akiyama, recently saw what should have been a decision win over Chris Leben go draining down the toilet; Leben and Akiyama fought at UFC 116 this past July and Akiyama seemed well on his way to clinching victory until Leben slapped on a picture-perfect triangle choke with only moments to go in the last round. So it is that Akiyama came Stateside and linked up with the renowned Greg Jackson camp looking to make the fine adjustments needed in his training to avoid losses that could or should be victories. While it is admirable for any fighter to acknowledge the holes in their game and seek tutelage to correct them, “The Count” remains unimpressed with his opponent’s camp switch.
“With respect, I couldn’t care less who he trains with,” Bisping said. “He can train with anyone. What I’m focusing on these days is what I do, focusing on my training. And he can worry about what I’m bringing to the table. I’ve improved all my areas. Regardless of who he’s training with, I think I’ll be too much for him. So, to answer your question, I couldn’t care less.”
Bisping and “Sexyama” share a common opponent in Leben, with Akiyama taking home a submission loss to “The Cat Smasher” and Bisping out-pointing him to earn a unanimous decision. “The Count” wisely avoids looking at these stats as being any indication of how he will perform against Akiyama, opting to pull hi confidence from his current progress as a fighter.
“I think it’d be pretty foolish to look at that and to automatically assume that I could beat him, just because Chris Leben beat him,” Bisping said. “In MMA, anything can happen on the mat. But, that said, I’ve looked at Akiyama, I’ve looked at his style, I look at the way he fights, and I’m positive I can beat him.”
“The Count” will be taking Akiyama on in front of a hometown London crowd and is determined to make good on their assured support, despite his opponent’s toughness and talent.
“I’m a much better fighter than what I was one year ago,” Bisping said. “I’m feeling like I’m maturing now, and I’m really coming into my peak as a mixed martial artist. I’m not overlooking Akiyama. I think he’s a very, very tough opponent, and I’m sure he’s going to be tough on the mat, and I’m sure it’s going to be a great fight.”
Bisping and Akiyama will square off this Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, England. The fight will be broadcast via tape-delay on SpikeTV this Saturday.