When Michael Bisping witnessed Yoel Romero knocking out Chris Weidman this past Saturday night in New York, he knew he was looking at his next opponent.
The winner of the fight was expected to get the next shot at the middleweight title so Bisping wasn’t surprised to hear UFC president Dana White declare Romero as the No. 1 contender following the bout with Weidman.
With Olympic caliber wrestling and huge knockout power, Romero certainly poses a serious threat to Bisping’s title reign, but it’s not what the Cuban born middleweight does within the rules that the middleweight champion is worried about.
Where Bisping becomes concerned is with Romero’s tendency to bend the rules inside the Octagon and the fact that he failed a drug test earlier this year.
“One thing is this — he’s the biggest cheating mother (expletive) in the whole sport I’d say,” Bisping told Sirius XM this week. “Every single fight, there’s some kind of cheating. This time it was the eyes and the water over his body again just like in the Tim Kennedy fight or he grabs the fence or he tests positive.
“We’ve still got to see what his test results are yet. If that’s going to be my next fight, I’m more than happy to do it. I want to face one of the top contenders, I am the champion and I have to do that. That makes me happy.”
Bisping is insistent that if Romero is going to be his next opponent, he wants the former silver medalist in wrestling tested constantly throughout his training camp.
Romero tested positive for a banned substance earlier this year but was only given a six month suspension after it was determined that he was the victim of a tainted supplement.
Bisping doesn’t buy that excuse or the short suspension that Romero ultimately received, but the current 185 pound champion is steadfast in his request that they both go through a rigorous drug testing protocol to ensure a clean and fair fight.
“The other thing I would say is that is one, very stringent drug testing throughout camp. I definitely want him randomly tested once a week leading up to the camp because there’s all kinds of little tricks you can play these days,” Bisping said.
“Because, I’m sorry, I still don’t buy that he’s clean.”
As far as timing on the fight, Bisping said the UFC already approached him about the possibility of returning in January for a card scheduled in Anaheim, but that’s not going to happen.
Bisping was just recently treated for an ailing knee problem that has plagued him in recent fights and he also wants the chance to spend the holidays with his family rather than going through a training camp during Christmas and New Year’s.
The middleweight champ says he was only willing to come back in December if he was getting a huge payday against a fighter like Georges St-Pierre, but he’s not risking his health if he’s not going to receive a significant pay increase to face Romero.
“Romero’s not really going to do much pay-per-view wise, maybe it will, maybe it won’t, we’d have to have another title fight on the card but as of right now, I’m not ready,” Bisping said. “I’ve been told to not even run for another month. I would have to start training camp next week, that’s when I would have to start training camp. That means I would have to train all the way through Christmas and all this types of stuff.
“I’ve had three fights already this year, that would be four fights in 10 months. I said to the UFC, I said to Dana (White), I want to let my knee get right and I want to have Christmas with my family. I think I’ve earned that.”
The one thing Bisping wants to make perfectly clear, however, is that he’s not avoiding a fight with Romero. Instead, Bisping insists that he’s never backed down from a challenge and if Romero is his next opponent, then that’s who he’s going to face.
It’s just not going to happen until sometime in 2017.
“People think that I’m scared of people and I’m trying to duck them and I find that notion absolutely laughable,” Bisping said. “I’ve been a fighter my entire life so scared, it’s just not part of my vocabulary.
“If he’s the No. 1 contender, which I would agree that he is. He just beat “Jacare” (Souza) and he beat (Chris) Weidman and prior to that he was on a good run as well so if he’s the next fight, he’s the next fight. That’s what I said, cool, bring it on. Bring it on, we’ll see what you’ve got.”