Las Vegas, Nevada – Two of the best strikers in the middleweight division collide at UFC® FIGHT NIGHT MACAO on Saturday, August 23, and fans around the world can catch the action live and on-demand on UFCFIGHTPASS.com, the UFC’s digital streaming service.
UFC veteran Michael “The Count” Bisping, 25-6, from Manchester, England, looks to regain his top five ranking when he throws down in the five-round main event with the uniquely talented former Strikeforce champion Cung Le, 9-2, fighting out of San Jose, California.
In the co-main event, the hard-hitting No. 4 ranked welterweight, Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley, 13-3 with wins over the likes of Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck, Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine – faces off with No.9 ranked “Stun Gun”, Dong Hyun Kim, 19-2-1, who is riding four consecutive wins over the likes of John Hathaway and Erick Silva.
Before flying to Asia, Bisping and Le gave their thoughts on this crucial middleweight match-up.
BISPING SAYS HIS BACK IS AGAINST THE WALL
“This is a must-win fight for me. I have to prove to the UFC, I have to prove to the fans, and I have to prove to myself that I’m still an elite fighter who can go on, get some wins over contenders, and fight for the UFC title. My last fight against Tim Kennedy sucked – it was the worst performance of my life. Kennedy had a gameplan to hold me down and he executed that gameplan well. In hindsight, I should never have accepted a fight just seven weeks after getting cleared to return to the gym after my eye injury. Yes, I was anxious to get back in there and earn my first paycheck in over a year but, with hindsight, I needed several months in the gym getting rid of ringrust. Instead, I made a huge mistake in taking on a wrestler like Kennedy without putting the work in – and I paid for it.
“But I’ve never lost two in a row in my life, and I don’t plan to. I’ve been fighting high-level competition for the last six, seven years. But I don’t want to be one of the guys in the top 10, who wins a few and loses a few, I want to be No.1 and I want to fight for the UFC title.
“My back is against the wall in terms of making that happen. I need to win to prove that I’m not just some fighter with a name who is fighting here and there for paydays. My record over my last six fights is win one, lose one, win one, lose one, and that’s just not good enough for what I want to do in my career.”
BISPING ON LE AS A FIGHTER
“He’s got good power, he’s a great striker if he can keep it long (at a distance) but he’s got nothing against the cage. He’s got no stamina, either. But he’s very dangerous if you let him do what he does best.”
BISPING ON HIS AND LE’S MOTIVATION
“Listen, Cung Le is basically back in the UFC to boost his brand and remind everybody of his existence. He hasn’t fought in a couple of years, so I’m guessing his profile has dipped, he’s probably not getting too many embarrassing kung-fu movie offers right now and – probably worst of all for him – Channing Tatum has stopped retweeting him.
“I’m going to put a beating on him, and he can disappear again back to b-movies. I have to close the distance on him, because he needs space to generate power in those fancy kicks of his. He’s got nothing at close range; everything is at a distance for him. And, at 42, he’s got no gas in the tank. He’s got four minutes or so in him – then he’s absolutely knackered. This is a five round fight and he’s 42 years old and hasn’t fought in two years. He had no gas in his first UFC fight three years ago, so he’s not going to be in better shape now. I’m going to take this win, cement my place in the top 10, and then go about getting back to the top four before the end of the year.”
LE ON BISPING’S JIBES
“I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, Mike, but I was replying to a fan question. That was the point of the Fight Club QandA, to give the fans the chance to ask questions of me. If Bisping is offended on that, well, that’s just him. He should get his facts straight, and focus on himself. I don’t promote myself by talking; I do my talking with my results in the Octagon. As for the movies, he’s done movies too, so I don’t understand what he’s trying to say with that.”
LE ON BISPING AS A FIGHTER
“I’d say his best attributes as a fighter are his cardio, he’s a good striker, he’s hard to submit… and he’s a great talker.”
LE ON MOTIVATION
“My film career isn’t what this is about, fighting in the UFC at the highest level is what I am interested in. I have competed in martial arts since I was 10 years old, 32 years of competition and most of it was competing just for the love of martial arts. I didn’t make money from competing all over the world in Shidokan or Wushu or any of the martial arts I practiced; I did it because I love martial arts.
“That’s the reason I am still doing this, because I love it. I’m not back to promote a movie, or to increase my brand or any of that stuff Bisping claims. I am back in the Octagon because that’s exactly what I want to do. I’ve been out for two years because of injury; I had three elbow surgeries that’s the only reason I have been out this last few years.
WHAT A WIN OVER BISPING DOES FOR LE
“Right now, I’m thinking of the Bisping fight as my championship fight in the UFC. It is a main event in an amazing venue, it is five rounds and will be seen around the world on UFCFIGHTPASS.com, and it’s against one of the most recognizable names in the UFC. I got to the UFC very late in my career, so this to me if my championship fight. This is on the same level as my fight for the Strikeforce belt against Frank Shamrock in 2008. That’s how I see it and that’s how I’ve prepared. I think beating Bisping in a main event matters, a lot of people will see the fight and the result will stand out on my career (record).”
LE ON WHAT HIS AGE MEANS, AND HIS FUTURE IN THE UFC
“I may be 42, but my mind and body tell me I can still do this.
“I’m 42, but after the elbow surgeries I’ve been able to train harder and better than I have in years. I used to have to train around my injury, which could be frustrating and would tire out other parts of my body faster. Now I can train the way I want to and I feel fitter than I have in years. And Bisping is 35, he’s not that much younger than me, and he’s taken more damage than I have.
“I’m going to continue to be a martial artist for the rest of my life. It isn’t what I do, it is who I am. I work-out all the time, whether I have a fight or not, in martial arts. It is getting harder to do the cardio and strength train, but I will compete in the UFC as long as I can, enjoy myself in MMA, and when that eventually ends I will still be a martial artist until the day I die.
LE ON FIGHTING IN ASIA
“I don’t care where I fight. I was prepared to go to his hometown in Manchester, England, to fight him when there was talk of that maybe happening last year. But, of course, fighting in Asia is an honor for me. If I can help the UFC gain new fans in a new market, then it is an honor.