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UFC London blog: Bisping launches final, cutting tirade at Silva

LONDON

As the cast of Saturday’s London card awoke ahead of the weigh-ins at The 02’s Indigo Lounge, they were greeted by a beautiful day to ease them into their final face-offs with their opponents before they meet in the Octagon.

The English capital is full of iconic landmarks and despite his workload as a guest fighter, Forrest Griffin is spotted visiting Buckingham Palace among the thousands of tourists just hours before the fighters register their official weight.

The packed tube shuttles from Westminster to North Greenwich and when it begins to empty, more and more Reebok T-shirts become visible through the crowds as fans make their way towards the 02 Arena.
 


As the bodies pack into The 02’s Indigo Lounge, there is a jovial atmosphere as fans are welcomed to ask questions of guest fighters Luke Rockhold and Griffin. Like a lot of people who will be present at The 02 tomorrow, the middleweight champion and TUF winner tell the masses how they are looking forward to seeing Tom Breese go to work, and the droves respond by roaring their approval.

After their next European stop in Zagreb, UFC will host its first show in the Netherlands. Officially announcing that combat sports legend Alistair Overeem will face his teammate Andrei Arlovski in the main event of the Rotterdam show, the assembly erupts as Overeem makes his way to the stage for a quick chat with Andy Friedlander.

Each fighter representing the UK is given a massive hometown greeting as he hits the scales. Brad Pickett, one of the best MMA proponents Britain has produced, provided the event with a special moment as his infant son joined him on the stage wearing a matching hat after he weighed in.

Although the vast majority of people were expecting it, the energy in the room rises to an all-time high after Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping have to be separated during their face off. No stranger to giving epic promos, Bisping launches a final, cutting attack at the Brazilian legend before their heavily anticipated main event clash.

“Everybody here, thank you so much for supporting me over the years. It means the world to me,” Bisping booms over the roars of the crowd. “When I step into the cage tomorrow I’m doing it on behalf of myself and Great Britain. Thank you all.”

“This man is a cheat,” he says, pointing at Silva. “This man is a fraud and I will make you pay for your mistakes tomorrow night, my friend. All the needles in your a**, all the steroids will not help you!”

FREE CONTENT: Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin | Michael Bisping vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama | Silva vs. Stephen Bonnar | Submission of the Week: Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch | KO of the Week: Silva vs. Vitor Belfort | Submission of the Week: Silva vs. Dan Henderson

Remaining calm, as he has all week, Silva simply nods in Bisping’s direction, smiles and gives him a sarcastic thumbs up. The great Brazilian has never really been one for trash talk, but there are parallels to be drawn between the build up to this fight and another one of his most memorable performances.

Like he has been saying all week, “The Spider” told everyone who asked that he had “nothing to prove” before he faced Vitor Belfort in February 2011. Silva famously dispatched Belfort with a spectacular front kick in the first round of their bout.

We will have to wait until tomorrow night to see whether Bisping’s goading has had the desired effect on Silva.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll



UFC London Blog Part 2: Silva's calm before the storm

LONDON

The 02, site of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night London event, sits stoically on Peninsula Square at midday in London, but at Tower Bridge scores of media members clamor into the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel for UFC London’s media day.

The first group of five fighters – Mike Wilkinson, Scott Askham, Arnold Allen, Norman Parke, Makwan Amirkhani – make their way to their allotted areas as gaggles of camera crews and interviewers shoot off in different directions to get central positions.
 


The rivalry between Wilkinson and Amirkhani has been building steadily ahead of Saturday night. When “Mr. Finland” moved to SBG Ireland from Allstars, Wilkinson claimed that Amirkhani was forced to leave the Swedish Gym after one of his teammates struck up a relationship with his girlfriend.

Not missing a beat among the frenzied media, Amirkhani targets his opponent in the middle of the room.

“Are you scared?” Amirkhani asks him.

“No, I’m just on the phone,” Wilkinson replies. “I’m talking to your missus.”

ATT coach Mike Brown is on babysitting duty as his fighter Brad Pickett makes his way to his scrum alongside Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, and Thales Leites. However, it isn’t Pickett’s son he’s looking after, it’s his puppy who is under the watchful eye of the MMA veteran and nearly every passer-by stops to say dote on Brown’s furry friend.

Behind a fence of bodies, microphone poles and cameras, Bisping tells his assembly that although he was ready to fight his initial opponent Gegard Mousasi, when Dana White called and told him he would be facing Anderson Silva instead, it “changed everything” in terms of his preparation.

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Just yards away, “The Spider” is as cool as can be behind a pair of fashionable spectacles with his manager Ed Soares standing by to translate.

When the scrums finish, some of Silva’s team is outside the function room that hosted the media day, and it is clear that his cool demeanor has spread to his comrades. UFC veteran Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante cracks jokes and the rest of the team burst into laughter as they take turns raiding the complimentary sandwiches that the hotel staff brings out for their numerous guests.
 


Bit by bit, the room clears as content is filed from the various media outlets that have traveled from all corners of the world. The London cabs sporting Silva and Bisping are on display outside the hotel, which catch the eye of pedestrians who stop and pose for pictures with the vintage vehicles.

A brisk walk away, guest fighters Luke Rockhold and Forrest Griffin take part in a photo shoot with the UFC Octagon girls to gather some more excitement ahead of the promotion’s return to The 02.

Griffin famously fell to one of the most elusive versions of The Spider we have ever seen when the Brazilian moved up to light heavyweight in 2009. With Rockhold sitting at the top of the division and Silva adamant that a win over Bisping will put him back in the title picture, you can’t help but wonder if the AKA standout queried Griffin on their meeting.

While Silva might seem like the most chilled out man on the planet before he gets into the Octagon, something changes in him once that door is shut behind him. We will have to wait until Saturday night to see if Bisping can overcome the great transformation in The Spider.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll



UFC London Blog Part 1: The Iconic Capital is Primed for UFC’s Return

LONDON

London is set to host the biggest fight in the history of UFC FIGHT PASS on Saturday night, as the greatest mixed martial artist England has ever produced, Michael Bisping, takes on the most spectacular proponent the sport has boasted, Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

The iconic English capital is gearing itself towards the UFC’s return to The O2. Billboards declare the arrival of the world’s flagship promotion all over the stations that support London’s underground transport system. Three letters synonymous with the fight game, UFC, are sprawled across Potter’s Field overlooking the legendary Tower Bridge.

As darkness falls on the European metropolis, a handful of classic London cabbies do their rounds with the two protagonists of the event emblazoned on the side of their vehicles.
 


Throughout the day, a number of the stars of Saturday night’s fight card take to various social media platforms to interact with fans. Later, Bisping, Silva, Brad Pickett and Tom Breese arrive at London’s famed shopping mecca, Oxford Street, where they strut their stuff to the whoops and applause of a captive audience.

As Bisping makes his way to the matted area, the heightened volume indicates how much the perennial middleweight contender means to England. Asking for the assistance of a young boy in the crowd to help him with his drills, his newly acquired training partner is wide-eyed in awe of “The Count” as he shows him some quick techniques.

As any UK MMA fan will attest, there’s something different about Bisping when he fights on home soil. Having never tasted defeat on home turf in 17 outings, Silva will not only fight the outspoken Mancunian on Saturday, but he will also have to contend with his spirited support.

“The last one in London against Akiyama, that was amazing,” remembered Bisping. “London is such an iconic place and The 02 is such a magnificent arena. That was a great fight and a great victory for me. The crowd was outstanding. I’ve been very lucky that the crowd have always given me a lot of vocal support in the UK and I’m forever grateful for that, it just blows me away. When I first fought at home as UFC fighter, I had no idea of the support I was going to get. It was such an amazing feeling.

“When I get to the arena I always like to have a little sneak peek before my fight. UFC don’t mind me doing it. I just like to feel the energy of the crowd and just get a taste for it. It fuels me, it reminds me of why I do this and what I’m in store for later. I just feed off their energy.”

While he has led the line for his country for many years, Saturday night will force Bisping to lead by example as eight other charges from the UK will also face a variety of international challengers from all over the globe. Undoubtedly, the whole UK cast shares the views of Mike Wilkinson, who insists that Bisping opened the door they are all now walking through with UFC.

 The biggest fight card in the history of UFC FIGHT PASS is Feb. 27. Don't miss it - join now!

“Michael Bisping has done great things for himself, the UFC and for UK MMA. He was one of the first guys from here to get into the UFC and he’s made a big difference for us,” Wilkinson said. “There were a lot of people that said we couldn’t mix it up with the Americans, but Bisping has been there and done that.

“He gave us that hope that UK fighters can make it to the big leagues and they can make a lot of money in doing so. By seeing what he did, all of us knew that we were capable of achieving that too.”

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll

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