MMA

Michael Bisping confident he would have beaten Israel Adesanya in his prime

Michael Bisping believes he could have beaten current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in his prime.

Bisping held the title for 18 months from June 2016 after a phenomenal upset win over Luke Rockhold at UFC 199.

Now retired, the Manchester-born fighter is working as a commentator and pundit for the promotion's TV broadcasts, and hosts a podcast called 'Believe You Me'.

And asked by Mirror Fighting if he believes he could have beaten the 20-1 champ, who has never lost at middleweight, he said that while he doesn't want to be disrespectful, he has the belief that he could have done it.

"Listen, I'm going to say yes, of course [I could beat Israel Adesanya]," Bisping said. "I do firmly believe that I could.

"However, with me separated from the sport like I am now, not actively competing, it's disrespectful for me to say that, but you ask any fighter they'll always says yes.

"That's what's in us, we all believe we could do it, of course I'd need to train for 3-6 months but yeah I do believe I could do that, but that's also disrespectful to Adesanya.

"I'm not competing so it's easy for me to say that and I don't have to back it up.

"But just the same way I knew I was the man to beat Anderson Silva, yeah I think I could beat him, even though some people might call me stupid."

Adesanya will defend his middleweight title this weekend at UFC 263 for the third time since beating Robert Whittaker for the undisputed belt, with Marvin Vettori the challenger, having fought to a tight split decision in 2018.

And despite losing the first bout, many believe that Vettori has displayed the tools necessary to end his unbeaten run in the division, after he lost for the first time in the cage last time out in an effort to win the light heavyweight title from Jan Blachowicz.

"The reality is, Adesanya is an incredible champion," Bisping continued. "I'm a massive fan of the guy and I think he's incredible at what he does.

"He brings a lot of eyeballs to the sport, he's a huge star and he's got a great fan-pleasing style so I absolutely love it, I never miss an Adesanya fight, simple as that.

"Stylistically, when you look at these two, Adesanya is a tremendous striker, the finesse, the speed, the precision, he's a sniper or whatever, he's that bloody good.

"But Blachowicz took him down in the centre of the octagon, and that's going to be something that Vettori is going to look at and as the fight continues the chances of a takedown become stronger.

"Both guys are going to get tired, but Vettori is a big strong guy and he's very game; he's been to a decision with Adesanya before, so he won't be intimidated.

"Of course he has to respect the skills Adesanya has but he's going to be willing to go forward and swing, but when he does he'll be looking to set up the takedowns.

"Vettori isn't a wrestler, but the way to beat Adesanya is to wrestle with him, so we'll see if he can block the takedowns."

BT Sport 1 will show UFC 263: Adesanya v Vettori 2 exclusively live on Saturday, June 12 with coverage of the main card featuring Leon Edwards v Natie Diaz from 3am. For more info go to BT Sport's official website

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