Michael Bisping reckons drugs cheats should stick to cycling ahead of his UFC Fight Night 84 clash with Anderson Silva.
The fight on Saturday at London’s O2 sees Brazilian brawler Silva return to UFC after a 12-month drug ban, following a pair of failed tests following his win over Nick Diaz in January 2015.
British middleweight Bisping’s comments come after Nate Diaz claimed that “everybody” in the UFC uses steroids during the press conference to promote his UFC 196 clash next month against Conor McGregor.
“A certain percentage of people in the UFC are using steroids. Shame on them”
“I don’t think everybody in the UFC is using steroids,” Lancashire fighter Bisping told Loaded. “But a certain percentage are, and shame on them.
“This is supposed to be a martial arts contest. Anybody that wants to use performance-enhancing drugs needs to find something else to do. They should go join the Tour De France.”
There’s no love lost between Bisping and his opponent, as Silva refused to shake the Brit’s hand at their stare down earlier this week.
Responding to the snub, Bisping said: “Once again, Anderson Silva doesn’t fail to disappoint. He tested positive for drugs; he wouldn’t shake hands. I might have said a few things to get a response, but I only talk about facts.
“He chooses to brush them under the carpet and tries to pretend they didn’t happen. He still stands by the fact that the tests were incorrect. Unfortunately, they weren’t. The second B samples were tested and he was found guilty.
“He’s offended and it’s getting under his skin. But the more it gets under his skin, the more I’m going to talk about it.”
Bisping believes Silva is taking their clash too personally, putting the refusal to shake his hand down to bad sportsmanship.
“He still stands by the fact that the tests were incorrect. Unfortunately, they weren’t”
“At the end of the day, it’s a fight,” he said. “It’s a professional thing. I have no problem with Silva personally. When the fight is finished, I’d love to take him out to dinner.”
A fight between the pair has long been coming. Silva dominated the middleweight division before his drugs ban, and Bisping had wanted to a shot at his title for years.
“This is the fight I’ve wanted for a long time,” 36-year-old Bisping explained. “I looked up to this guy for years. But I’ll be the aggressor on Saturday. He fights on the counter, so I’m not going to chase him around the octagon, but I will take the fight to him. He’s going to want to knock me out but I foresee a round two TKO.
“I can’t wait to get out there. I’m hoping for big support from the UK crowd. Every time I fight here is special. The supporters are incredible.”
Responding to Bisping’s claims, Silva appeared to have a relaxed attitude.
“Bisping will talk the talk,” Silva said. “It’s what he does. It doesn’t surprise me. But it also doesn’t worry me. My focus is the fight, and then focusing on the next challenge that comes after it.”
The fight with Bisping is the first step for Silva in rebuilding his legacy. But, aged 40, it’s not certain he’ll ever get that chance.
And Tom Breese, who fights Japanese middleweight Keita Nakamura on the main card at the O2 on Saturday, doesn’t seem sure that he should. He says Silva’s record is tarnished by the failed drug tests.
“The problem is, because of the ban, we don’t know if he was using anything at any other time in his career,” says Breese. “But the testing in the UFC has really stepped up, so it gets harder and harder for people to do it. Now, at the end of the day, the cheats are going to get caught.”
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum