| Last updated
Michael Bisping is one of the UK's best fighting exports, and the current UFC middleweight champion has been preparing for life after MMA with his roles in acting as well as an analyst.
Nobody has had more fights or wins inside the octagon than Bisping, who a little over a year ago became the first British UFC champion after stunning Luke Rockhold inside one round at UFC 199 to seal middleweight gold.
Bisping then returned to Manchester to defend his belt against long-term foe and one of his few conquerors in Dan Henderson who'd previously stopped the Englishman back at UFC 100 with a stunning diving punch.
After a five round, back and forth war, Bisping's hand was raised and another loss was avenged. Michael Bisping had finally achieved his dream after nearly six hours of fighting time inside the octagon.
Our MMA man Darren Russell (@DRussellMMA) got the opportunity to chat to the UFC middleweight champion ahead of the launch of My Name is Lenny, and as usual, he didn't hold back.
Does the rivalry between Shaw and Lenny remind you of any rivalries in MMA?
Good question! I'm not sure, it was an intense rivalry. Hate is a very strong word but I think they hated each other and one that is on trend right now is Cormier and Jones. They're heading into a second fight and if Cormier wins that they'll have the trilogy fight so you can see some similarities there.
How were you approached to play the role?
My background as a fighter means I can get into a fighter's mind-set easily but I'm not being Michael Bisping in there, I'm being Roy Shaw. YouTube is a great thing these days so I could study him, watch his mannerisms and how he walks, talks and acts! The three fights that happen in this movie are all on YouTube so we could recreate them as close as possible. I did my homework basically!
How did you find acting out fight scenes rather than doing it inside an octagon?
It's very different. You'd assume if you're a fighter you can just go out there and do it easily but it's not that simple. Fighting in real life and fighting on camera are two very different things and you've got to have respect for who you're working with. You've got to practice, be careful you don't hit them, sell the blows, read the shots and it's all very closely choreographed. You've got to do it all with intensity but make sure you can't connect. In the octagon, you'd use your instincts, but here you've got to remember the fight scene. It can be very challenging but I've taken to it rather easily.
Do you look back on your humble beginnings and think of how far you've come?
All the time! I have to pinch myself as I'm just an average lad from Clitheroe and it's crazy. It shows what hard work, dedication and vision does. I always had vision and ambition. I could always fight and I dedicated my life to martial arts as a kid and I guess I always had a good brain on my shoulders which has helped. You've got to be smart and tactical and that's what I've done. I work hard and apply myself to everything I do. I'm very humble and never forget who I am and where I've come from. It can all be taken away in a heartbeat and that's what keeps me working so hard. I'm a tireless worker from a working-class background. I've done every dead end, s**t job under the sun and I'm very grateful for the position I'm in now.
Do you look back at your success story and wonder if it will ever make a movie?
Yes, why not! Who doesn't want a movie made about them! I have had a very crazy story and maybe one day people will care enough to investigate. Who would you like to play you? It would have to be someone extremely good looking and with my rugged good looks! I'm not sure if there is a man capable of doing that right now. I'll get back to you on that one!
You have your future planned, with roles doing analysis as well as acting. How important is this to you, a life after fighting?
You can't fight forever, so the last five or six years I've slowly been growing my presence outside of the octagon, so when the time comes to give up fighting, I'm set for the future. Of course, I'm the champion right now and that's great but you've got to be realistic, it isn't going to last forever. I did my first movie in 2009 and truly enjoyed the process and have been chipping away at it ever since, it's going well! But it's like anything, you've got to work at it. I've had acting classes; I've got a great acting coach and you've got to learn and study. I've got a great team around me now and things are going very well. We're making ground and xXx was huge for us. We've got My Name is Lenny coming out now, I've done another film called Triple Threat, which we filmed in Thailand. We did Den of Thieves with Gerard Butler, a TV show called Dark Matter as well as Twin Peaks. So far so good... my agent is killing it, god bless him!
With Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker fighting for the interim title at UFC 213, who do you think wins that?
I think Whittaker will pull it off. I know everyone hypes about Romero but he's a juicehead. He tested positive not too long ago so I'd assume he's not on anything now as he doesn't want to get suspended again so the more time that passes, the advantages of those steroids will wear off. Whittaker is young, he's got good footwork and boxing and I think he knocks him out in Round 4 or 5. It doesn't mean anything; interim belts aren't worth the leather they're printed on. An interim belt is a joke, I defended the belt in October and I've had a bit of a knee issue, but it's the UFC's decision and if they want to do that, then good for them! All it does is solidify who the number one contender is. They've got to sell pay-per-views. Dana asked me to fight in July, which I said I couldn't as I'd had two knee surgeries at the start of the year and the recovery time hasn't gone to plan. It's taking longer than expected so he asked did I mind an interim title fight so I said do what you've got to do. It doesn't bother me.
Are you glad to see less alligator emojis since Jacare's defeat?
Oh my god! Every time I posted on Instagram, even if it was just my kids you'd see thousands of f*****g alligators so when Whittaker knocked him out I thought thank god I don't have to deal with those anymore. They've all disappeared, all the Jacare fans have gone quiet! He was another one, juiced out of his mind. I call him the incredible shrinking man, the more time that USADA have been involved, the smaller he gets each fight so low and behold, he gets knocked out! I knew it was always going to happen.
Luke Rockhold has recently been campaigning for a third fight with you. What do you think of him?
Luke Rockhold hasn't stepped into a f*****g octagon since he got knocked out cold, with his head bouncing around like a bobblehead or a pinball machine. Luke "Bobblehead" Rockhold needs to fight! You don't get knocked out cold in the first round and get an immediate rematch, it's that simple. I had to win three fights before I got my rematch with him so he needs to stop being a little bitch and get in there and fight. Once he gets back in and wins some fights, then we can talk but right now but as of right now, he hasn't got a leg to stand on.
When and where do you fight next, ideally?
I'm not sure, probably towards the end of the year. They've got the interim title fight in July but I'm hoping it's going to be GSP, but I've heard from his camp that it might be back on again. If that fight happens in November or December then after I beat him, one more fight in England. My last fight would have to be here, the fans have always got behind me, every step of the way. I'm not saying 100% it'll be my final fight, but I can't fight forever. I'm in a good place right now but who knows!
Fingers crossed for GSP. One minute it's on and the next it's off. Let's hope it happens! Michael Bisping was talking at the launch of the movie, My Name is Lenny.
Explosive and brutal, My Name Is Lenny is based on the true story of Britain's most notorious bareknuckle fighter: Lenny McLean (Josh Helman, Mad Max: Fury Road). A known associate of The Krays, Charles Bronson and Ronnie Biggs,
Lenny was an East End icon, bouncer and enforcer at the centre of the unlicensed boxing world. Welcome to the no-holds-barred epic portrayal of his life, from a troubled and violent childhood to his early fighting years, exploring his loving but volatile relationships and bitter rivalry with Roy Shaw (UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping, xXx: Return of Xander Cage) all culminating in his championship win to become: THE GUV'NOR.
Also starring Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), BAFTA winner Chanel Cresswell (This is England) and Oscar:registered: nominated John Hurt (V For Vendetta). In Select Cinemas and Digital 9th June. DVD & Blu-ray 12th Jun
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read