British UFC middleweight pioneer Michael Bisping has accused former world title holder Anderson Silva of being “a coward” before their sold-out fight at London’s O2 in February.
Bisping, ranked No 7 in the world, admitted he hadn’t wanted to fight Silva after the Brazilian tested positive for a banned substance following his fight against Nick Diaz in January.
The February 27 bout marks Silva’s return to UFC after he was given a one-year ban and £240,000 fine. The 40-year-old veteran has claimed the test result was because he accidentally took “contaminated” Viagra which he had bought by mail order from Thailand.
But in a press conference to mark their scrap, Bisping told Silva: “Anyone who tries to cheat the system is a coward. If fighters are testing positive, they’ll continue to cheat and try to manipulate the system. Bringing in advanced testing doesn’t change the fact you’re a coward.”
A furious Silva responded by saying that Lancashire-raised Bisping, 36, was “trash talking” in a bid to build up the fight. He said: “I’m ready to be tested as often as anyone likes. My body’s physique has never changed. I’ve fought since I was eight years old, and I’ve never needed to take illegal substances.
“I made a mistake, by taking a product that was contaminated. You can say what you want, but the octagon is where it will all be figured out. I may win, I may lose, but inside that cage is where it will all be proved.”
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is the sixth fighter Bisping, nicknamed The Count, has faced who has tested positive for banned substances. It’s a statistic which the Brit, who is unbeaten on home turf, is riled by.
He told Loaded: “Anderson mentions ‘trash talk’, but I’m blown away by his arrogance. How on earth does he expect me not to mention the fact that he took not one, not two, but three banned substances? That’s very, very, very relevant. Does he really expect me to brush that under the carpet?”
Despite his anger at Silva’s record, Bisping insisted he still respected his opponent’s record inside the octagon. He called the contest “a bucket list fight” and added: “He’s still Anderson Silva, who is someone I always wanted to face.
“But I did say to myself ‘I’m sick of fighting people who have an unfair advantage. I’ve fallen foul of it several times. If anyone else I’m nominated to fight has an issue with banned substances, I won’t fight them, as there are plenty of other fighters.’ But once I heard rumours Silva was on the cards, I knew he was a massive draw. Outside of a title fight, this is as big as it gets. I’m a happy man.”
For more information on the fight, see www.ufc.com
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn