Michael Bisping exclusive: Israel Adesanya is 'the best striker in the UFC'

  • Tom Ward
Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping rocked back in his chair and roared with laughter.

“Okay, so I have a LAN connection, I turn my Wi-Fi off so I have the best connection possible,” he said. “I heard like every fourth word there buddy. Come on man, this is terrible.”

Alongside being known for his exceptional fighting prowess, the winner of the UFC’s hit reality show ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is also a master of wit. One journalist bore the brunt of this earlier in the week when he wrestled with a dodgy Wi-Fi connection during a virtual Zoom news conference call with ‘The Count’. 

Fortunately for him, Bisping appeared to be in a rather good mood, as he proceeded to poke fun at the poor unfortunate soul with a series of well-timed jibes.

In another quip aimed at the unnamed individual, he added: “Between the fire alarms and the no Wi-Fi, this has been great!” 

Speaking from his home in Anaheim, California, Bisping sat down in front of the press via a video link to preview tomorrow’s clash between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori and suggested ‘The Last Stylebender’ still has some room for improvement. 

Israel Adesanya

Adesanya, like Bisping, became the UFC middleweight champion when he beat New Zealand-born Australian Robert Whittaker in front of a hostile Melbourne crowd. 

But the 42-year-old believes tomorrow’s fight won’t be an easy contest and Adesanya will have to have his wits about him. 

Asked to share his thoughts on the bad blood between Adesanya and Vettori, Bisping exclusively told GIVEMESPORT: “Listen, they don’t like each other. It’s not fabricated. It’s not manufactured. They’re not trying to sell fights. They just don’t like each other.

“Right? I mean, listen, I like Marvin Vettori a lot, but it’s hard to call him a winner when he was wearing that outfit! I’m joking guys, I’m joking.

“I don’t know, I thought they both had some good lines, they were both very confident, you know, and yeah, it’s gonna [sic] be an interesting fight, I can’t wait.

“I’m a massive fan of Israel Adesanya and I’ve got so much respect for him and the things he’s done in the career he’s had. He is unreal. But he did show a lack of ability on the ground against Jan Blachowicz.

“Obviously Blachowicz is very good, he’s big, he’s strong, but when he got on top, Adesanya didn’t really have much to offer there to be honest. He needs to improve in that area.

“But hey, that’s mixed martial arts, you know, you’re always looking to improve, and he’s probably the best striker in the whole of the UFC.”

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Like many other UFC fans, Bisping is excited to see Nate Diaz make his long-awaited return to the Octagon this weekend, but believes Leon Edwards will be too much for the Stockton favourite.

“I do, actually. I do. Listen, Diaz is incredibly tough and he deserves everybody’s respect,” said the 42-year-old. “You know, he’s not a walk in the park for anybody, he’s a fighter’s fighter, he’s got all the qualities you look for in a fighter. 

“But he’s met his match here. I just think Leon is too big. I think Leon is too good. I think Leon probably has more ways to win. I think Leon can probably out-grapple him if he wanted to.

“I think he could take him down whenever he wanted to. Diaz isn’t a strong wrestler, you know, he’s decent, don’t get me wrong, but he’s very good on the ground, he’s a good boxer, with a great chin and excellent conditioning, but he’s not a one-punch knockout power kinda [sic] guy.

“I think Leon is, certainly against Diaz, I think with his head kicks, he could knock out Diaz just like Josh Thompson did. I really struggle to see a way where Diaz can win this fight. I really do. I can think of ways, but I don’t agree with them, I don’t believe them, and I don’t think he’ll have them.

“Now, Diaz has shown that he can surprise people time and time again. When he fought Conor McGregor the first time, I was fighting Anderson Silva the week before, and I told everybody: ‘Oh, Diaz is gonna [sic] get smoked, he’s gonna [sic] get smoked, bet whatever money you have on Conor McGregor because there’s not a chance in hell that he does it’.

“And we all know what happened. That’s the beauty of mixed martial arts and that’s the beauty of the UFC.”

Michael Bisping

In 2016 Bisping became the UFC middleweight champion when he stopped Luke Rockhold in the first round of their main event at UFC 199 in Inglewood, California. He remains the only British fighter to win a UFC title. 

However, Bisping has backed Edwards to beat his fellow countryman Darren Till in the race to become a champion in the future as he targets a welterweight title shot. 

“Probably Leon, I think Leon because I think Leon’s gonna [sic] win this weekend,” he added. “And then I think he will sit out on the sidelines and wait for his title shot. That would be the smart move.

“For Darren [Till], Darren is right there as well, remember? Okay, you know, when you look at the record, it’s a little misleading.

“Alright, there was that loss to [Jorge] Masvidal – it happens, people get caught. But then who did he lose to? He lost to [Robert ]Whittaker and beat [Kelvin] Gastelum. That fight with Whittaker was razor close, and it came down to that takedown in the fifth round.

“And then when you look at what Whittaker just did to Gastelum, Whittaker is on fire right now. So the point I’m making is all Darren’s got to do – I’m hearing rumblings of Derek Brunson, go out there and beat Derek Brunson, maybe one more, and he’s getting that title shot.

“And he’s only getting better. He’s only 28 you know, he’s got all the time in the world. I think I was 38 or something like that it took me to get a title shot so the guy’s got another ten years.”

BT Sport 1 will show UFC 263: Adesanya v Vettori 2 exclusively live on Saturday 12th June with coverage of the main card featuring Leon Edwards v Natie Diaz from 3am. For more info go to bt.com/sport/ufc

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