Beyond the concealed yet determined exterior of Michael Bisping burns an inextinguishable fire of ambition like no other.
The 35-year-old middleweight still has an unquenchable appetite for success in the 185-pound weight class despite numerous set backs in his quest to become the world number one.
The “Count” remains ravenous following eliminator losses to Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen in 2009 and 2012 respectively with the pain amplified in defeat to a dubiously pumped Vitor Belfort last year.
But Bisping fosters the traits of a potential champion and has vowed to usurp Chris Weidman at the top should he beat Tim Kennedy at the Ultimate Fighter: Nations Finale on April 16th in Quebec City, Canada, and have his wish of a title tilt granted by UFC president Dana White.
“That fire still burns deeply in my heart,” he said. “I want to become the first Englishman to earn that title of world champion. I’ve come close a few times but fallen a few times. I’m a fighter by definition so I’m certainly not going to give up. The biggest fight of my life so far has been with this whole eye issue and I’ve got through that now. I’m back, and I’m going to beat Tim Kennedy.”
Throughout his career, the Clitheroe-born MMA star has been called out by just about everybody in his category. But Bisping believes that shows a lack of ambition on his rivals’ part because the only person on the Brit’s hit list is the globe’s ultimate fighter.
The world number four said: “A lot of people have been calling me out lately, which is weird because I don’t see the logic in calling out the number four toughest guy in the world. I’m calling out the number one so I’m going to beat the crap out of Tim Kennedy, call out the champion, and hopefully later in the year the UFC will give me that title shot.”
Bisping, who may take on the winner of the UFC 173 championship fight between kingpin Weidman and Lyoto Machida in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 24th, added: “I’ve come back stronger. I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons that have made me realise how much I love this sport and how much further I’ve yet to go. I’ve still got a lot of work to do to achieve what I want to achieve.
“It’s kept me motivated and pushed me to work hard for my return. I’ve not sat about doing nothing; I’ve kept busy, been to the gym as much as possible, and I’m fully prepared for this comeback. It’s been a long time coming.”