UFC 159 co-main event fighter Michael Bisping is never one to shy away from speaking his mind on any number of subjects.
In many ways for as brash as Bisping seems before a fight, he is more than capable of humility when the situation demands it. Take for instance when he suffered a knockout in his last fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 back in January.
It was a tough loss to swallow because with a win Bisping would have almost assuredly been locked into a title fight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva later this year. Despite the defeat and upset, Bisping called Belfort "a better man" and offered "no excuses" for the loss.
A few weeks after the fight, however, it was revealed that Belfort was the latest recipient of TRT treatment. Belfort's use of testosterone came under fire because he had tested positive for steroids following a fight in 2006. While Belfort's reasons for needing TRT are unknown, past performance enhancing drug abuse can lead to low testosterone in men.
Bisping did his best to take the high road after the revelation about Belfort's TRT usage was made public, but he probably has more of a reason than any fighter to get a little upset about the subject. Three of Bisping's career losses have come to fighters prescribed TRT, and he's obviously no fan of the controversial treatment.
"I'd like to face him when he's not juicing," Bisping told Bleacher Report's Great Debate Radio about a rematch with Belfort down the road. "You can dress it up all you want. You can call it TRT, etc...listen, it's taking steroids. It's performance enhancing drugs and it does enhance your performance. Yeah, I'd love to fight him again on a level playing field.
"I'd like to fight Dan Henderson on a level playing field, and I'd like to fight Chael Sonnen on a level playing field. They were all on performance enhancing drugs and it sucks. That's all in the past, all I'm focused on is Alan Belcher. That's all my attention, and that's all I'm thinking about."
Belfort's use of TRT is one thing both Bisping and his next opponent Alan Belcher agree upon. Outside of that, however, it's likely the two middleweights won't be as cordial about anything else leading into their fight at UFC 159.
Belcher has never necessarily been a quiet fighter when it comes to promoting his bouts, but he's also never quite reached Bisping's level of prolific trash talk. Still heading into this fight, Belcher's voice has been heard much more than ever before through social media, video blogs and interviews.
Bisping believes this is just Belcher getting his 15 minutes of fame because, like an American Idol castoff, he's cashing in while he can because once it's over no one will remember his name.
"Alan Belcher, he's trying to take a page out of my book or he's trying to be Chael Sonnen. He's being someone very, very different for this fight. I'm not quite sure I understand it," Bisping said. "He's trying to be all vocal, making video blogs and doing this and that, and he's trying to convince himself he's going to win the fight.
"The reality of the situation is that his last fight he lost against Yushin Okami. Prior to that he was on a four-fight win streak. Now he's coming off a loss and he's co-main event. When he fought Yushin Okami he was a mid-card fighter, but now he's fighting me and he's co-main event. So, he's trying to make the most out of the limelight.
"I commend him for that, because after this fight no one's going to give a s—t about him. No one's going to watch him. No one's going to watch his stupid jiu-jitsu videos or go to his cocky little gym in the middle of nowhere. Good for him he's making the most out of a good situation."
Bisping may not be the champion and he's never held a UFC title, but he is routinely the name on the tip of the tongues of almost every middleweight in the sport when asked who they want to fight next. Part of it is Bisping's willingness to play the part of the cocky, British braggart, but it also means anybody that faces him is likely to land in the main or co-main event of a card.
Bisping is undeniably one of the UFC's most marketable stars and every fighter on the roster knows that and wants to take a piece of it. Belcher is the latest competitor to get the chance and Bisping knows this is the biggest opportunity of his career.
"I'm aware who he is. Have I paid attention to his career? Not really," Bisping stated. "I've been focusing on main events and co-main events, legends and former champions. I wasn't calling Joe Silva and saying 'Hi Joe, can I have a mid-tier fight against an average fighter that not many people have heard of?' That wasn't where my attention and where my goals were. I don't see an ultra impressive fighter if I'm honest though."
The opportunity to compete at this level is where Bisping believes Belcher will fold when they face off on Saturday night in New Jersey. It's easier said than done to help carry a pay-per-view and to perform on the biggest stage in the sport.
Bisping knows Belcher's not ready for that moment and expects him to wilt and fade like he's done many times before.
"I think if you pressure him or put him on his back and he doesn't know what to do, he folds under pressure," Bisping said. "Kendall Grove did the same thing to him. Kendall Grove beat the s—t out of him from start to finish, put the pressure on him and finished him with a D'Arce choke. Jason Day did the same thing. Okami did the same thing.
"After his last loss to Okami now he's saying that he wasn't in shape, he wasn't prepared accordingly. Which is absolute bulls—t. That's absolute nonsense. He's making excuses for losses. He's going to have to make a pretty good excuse after I beat him next week."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.