TRCH Priscilla

Bisping Back in Blighty with UFC

12 November 19 words: Roxy Stewart
photos: UFC Gym

Last weekend Micheal Bisping popped into Notts to officially open the brand spanking new UFC Gym. We sent Roxy Stewart down to have a natter about his career to date and the swanky, state of the art facility which boasts a full-size Octagon, as well as offering activities for all the family. 

When you won the Middleweight Championship and they put that belt around your waist, how did you feel and what went through your mind when you knew?

I don’t know what went through my mind, just pure joy to be honest, I mean, It’s something that I worked so hard to achieve for so many years, from being a small child - eight years old I started martial arts.

In my career, I’d had a lot of ups and then downs. I’d got to number one match contender several times and lost; four times I was in that position and a lot of people wrote me off, so to actually achieve it, my goal - it felt great. The validation, a lifetime of hard work, my family supporting me, all those things together - yeah it was an amazing moment.  

 

You mentioned starting martial arts at the age of eight; if you hadn’t of persevered with kickboxing and MMA, what do you think you’d be doing now? 

A lot of people ask that question and I have no idea; I mean, I’m ambitious so I’d have probably found something else. Prior to being a fighter, I was a DJ and was putting all my efforts into that and then I kind of realised that I was never gonna be the next Carl Cox and so moved on to this. 

I’ve always been a natural fighter so I guess this is the perfect environment for me but really I have no idea - thank god this came along. School wasn’t really my thing, I went to college but found electrical engineering really boring, I’ve got no idea why I did it?! I dropped out and then realised that there’s not too much demand for unskilled sixteen-year-olds in the world but fortunately, this came along and saved my life.  

 

Did you feel any particular pressure being a trailblazer for British UFC fighters? 

You know, it’s very kind of you to say that, but at the time I never looked at myself like that. I was just doing me. Of course, I was always very proud to represent my country, that was always very dear to me, the support I got, particularly when I fought in England - or even all over the world - I could feel that support and I will never, ever forget that; but at the same time I wasn’t out there thinking ‘I’m the main guy’ or anything like that, I was just a humble guy from Clitheroe trying to do better by my family and trying to give my children the best life I could.

Although, to hear people say it, yeah, it’s beautiful - it’s amazing. But I’ll let other people say things like that, I’m not going to say it cause you sound like a total arsehole you know, I’m the trailblazer, I’m the guy! (laughs) But thank you! 

 

You’re welcome! It’s really pleasant to see that humbleness and that humility... 

Well some people, they get a little bit of success and they let it go to their head...that said, over the years, I’m not saying that I haven’t been a bit of a dickhead here and there and said things I regret. That’s life and when the camera’s in front of your face...you know.

 

Back to fighting, your reach was phenomenal, I personally was a big fan of your ground and pound. Where were you most comfortable? 

Predominantly I guess I was a kickboxer and in the UFC there was a lot of wrestling so avoiding the takedown was always a big part of the gameplan. Wherever the game takes you, you’ve got to be ready, but ground and pound, I used to love that.

 

In your opinion, who is the best fighter you ever faced? 

Either Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre, one of those two.

 

Fair. 

Anderson Silva, I won that fight but my face looks a little different, got scars all over after that one… GSP, I mean, I could beat GSP but I went in there with one eye and damaged ribs - still, I always have a lot of respect for Georges, he’s a great guy and a consummate professional. All young mixed martial artists should try and base themselves on him, he’s constantly evolving, looking at new training methods; he’s not out there boozing and falling out of nightclubs, he’s someone who fighters should really aspire to be like.

 

Despite retirement, you still seem actively involved in the sport? 

Yes, Wednesday morning I’m flying to São Paulo and commentating the UFC event there. I do a lot of commentating now. It’s great to be involved still and fortunately, now it’s big, I can earn a living! The sport is evolving all the time and the athletes keep getting better and better. 

 

Do you think that having facilities like UFC gym in the UK will help train more British UFC stars in the future? 

The thing is, with UFC Gym, if we achieve that then fantastic but that’s not really what this place is all about. I have a UFC Gym in Costa Mesa, California about twenty minutes from where I live and realistically they’re fitness places. 

Martial arts has been very good to me, it’s taught me a lot of discipline, respect, confidence, self-defence, but if you can shape a healthy lifestyle that’s what the gym is really all about; the classes are amazing, it’s a very welcoming place for families, they’re really state of the art fitness facilities with UFC branding. 

You come in here, you’ve got that energy, the music’s pumping, it’s a great place to work out and there’s a great community. We’re not here to groom the next lot of fighters, of course, it will help the sport grow and if we discover new talent, that would be amazing for us but, as I say, primarily, were trying to spread fitness. 

 

For further information find UFC Gym Nottingham here. 

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