MICHAEL BISPING believes the UFC’s long-awaited return to London will be a coming of age for the Golden Generation of British fighters – but he’s refusing to take any credit for influencing them.
Eleven Brits will make the walk to the world-famous octagon on Saturday night in the promotion’s first card in the UK for over three years.
Wigan’s own Tom Aspinall has been given topping billing at the O2 Arena in a heavyweight showdown with Alexander Volkov, which will be preceded by Suffolk strangler Arnold Allen’s featherweight clash with Dan Hooker.
The pair, and the rest of their British compatriots, have all admitted to drawing inspiration from the Hall-of-Fame career turned in by Bisping – the nation’s first and only UFC champion.
But The Count has played down his part in their rises to prominence, telling SunSport: “I wasn’t the first guy [representing the UK].
“There were people who came before me.
“And he [the Q&A host] said, ‘Yeah, but you’re the guy that stuck around and really carved a career out of it.’
“I said, ‘Okay, I get that.’ But I am keen to point out that I wasn’t the first guy.
“There were others before me and there are plenty of others after me.”
Despite being quick to brush off his impact on the stars of UFC London, Bisping is aware of the effect he had on the growth of the sport in the United Kingdom.
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He said: “When I take out the humility side of it, I’d be lying if I didn’t recognise and see [the impact I had].
“Of course, at one point, I had the most wins in the UFC.
“I definitely was a fixture for a very long time and I’m very proud of that.
“And I’m proud of the impact I left on the sport and seeing all these people [in action] at the weekend.
“Knowing that guys I’d come up with and some of my colleagues back in the day kind of helped it along in our little way [is nice].”
Bisping’s work in raising the profile of a sport once deemed to be ‘too brutal’ to become mainstream in the UK wasn’t just resigned to the confines of the octagon.
He recalled: “I remember when I won the Ultimate Fighter season three and they opened up the UK office. I would spend half my life on the train going down to London to speak to journalist after journalist, after journalist.
“I’d sit in a very nice hotel that the UFC would pay for or sit in a restaurant and I’d do journalist after journalist, after journalist. Just trying to get the word out there.
“This wasn’t for a fight. I didn’t have a fight booked.
“This is just me working for the UFC trying to expose the brand and I suppose working for myself and trying to expose my brand. It was a lot of work, but I loved every minute of it.
“But to see where it’s at today – I do take a sense of pride in it.”
Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping spoke to SunSport ahead of the release of his documentary.
BISPING: THE MICHAEL BISPING STORY is available to rent or own on digital from March 21.