Article

UFC London Blog: Anderson Silva’s Calm before the Storm

LONDON

The 02, site of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night London event, sits stoically on Peninsula Square at midday in London, but at Tower Bridge scores of media members clamor into the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel for UFC London’s media day.

The first group of five fighters – Mike Wilkinson, Scott Askham, Arnold Allen, Norman Parke, Makwan Amirkhani – make their way to their allotted areas as gaggles of camera crews and interviewers shoot off in different directions to get central positions.
 


The rivalry between Wilkinson and Amirkhani has been building steadily ahead of Saturday night. When “Mr. Finland” moved to SBG Ireland from Allstars, Wilkinson claimed that Amirkhani was forced to leave the Swedish Gym after one of his teammates struck up a relationship with his girlfriend.

Not missing a beat among the frenzied media, Amirkhani targets his opponent in the middle of the room.

“Are you scared?” Amirkhani asks him.

“No, I’m just on the phone,” Wilkinson replies. “I’m talking to your missus.”

ATT coach Mike Brown is on babysitting duty as his fighter Brad Pickett makes his way to his scrum alongside Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, and Thales Leites. However, it isn’t Pickett’s son he’s looking after, it’s his puppy who is under the watchful eye of the MMA veteran and nearly every passer-by stops to say dote on Brown’s furry friend.

Behind a fence of bodies, microphone poles and cameras, Bisping tells his assembly that although he was ready to fight his initial opponent Gegard Mousasi, when Dana White called and told him he would be facing Anderson Silva instead, it “changed everything” in terms of his preparation.

MORE ON FIGHT NIGHT LONDON: Join UFC FIGHT PASS | Reasons to watch Fight Night London | Fight Night London Embedded: Episode 1, Episode 2 | UFC Battle Lines: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 | UFC Breakdown: Fight Night London | How to watch Silva vs. Bisping | Read: Comeback? Anderson Silva never really left | Bisping finally gets career-long wish: Silva fight | Say it again - Silva's greatest soundbites, Bisping's greatest soundbytes | Super Spider - Silva's defining moments | Silva, Bisping trade barbs with fight nearing | Watch: Silva vs. Bisping - Joe Rogan preview | Rankings Report - London preview | Open Workout Highlights | Bisping - Warrior Code | Pundits weigh in on Silva-Bisping | Bisping - Fighting and Family | Big Nog on Silva's Best Fights | Big Nog on Silva's heart | Under the radar fights | Breese turns from UFC student to fighter

Just yards away, “The Spider” is as cool as can be behind a pair of fashionable spectacles with his manager Ed Soares standing by to translate.

When the scrums finish, some of Silva’s team is outside the function room that hosted the media day, and it is clear that his cool demeanor has spread to his comrades. UFC veteran Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante cracks jokes and the rest of the team burst into laughter as they take turns raiding the complimentary sandwiches that the hotel staff brings out for their numerous guests.
 


Bit by bit, the room clears as content is filed from the various media outlets that have traveled from all corners of the world. The London cabs sporting Silva and Bisping are on display outside the hotel, which catch the eye of pedestrians who stop and pose for pictures with the vintage vehicles.

A brisk walk away, guest fighters Luke Rockhold and Forrest Griffin take part in a photo shoot with the UFC Octagon girls to gather some more excitement ahead of the promotion’s return to The 02.

Griffin famously fell to one of the most elusive versions of The Spider we have ever seen when the Brazilian moved up to light heavyweight in 2009. With Rockhold sitting at the top of the division and Silva adamant that a win over Bisping will put him back in the title picture, you can’t help but wonder if the AKA standout queried Griffin on their meeting.

While Silva might seem like the most chilled out man on the planet before he gets into the Octagon, something changes in him once that door is shut behind him. We will have to wait until Saturday night to see if Bisping can overcome the great transformation in The Spider.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll



UFC London Blog Part 1: The Iconic Capital is Primed for UFC’s Return

LONDON

London is set to host the biggest fight in the history of UFC FIGHT PASS on Saturday night, as the greatest mixed martial artist England has ever produced, Michael Bisping, takes on the most spectacular proponent the sport has boasted, Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

The iconic English capital is gearing itself towards the UFC’s return to The O2. Billboards declare the arrival of the world’s flagship promotion all over the stations that support London’s underground transport system. Three letters synonymous with the fight game, UFC, are sprawled across Potter’s Field overlooking the legendary Tower Bridge.

As darkness falls on the European metropolis, a handful of classic London cabbies do their rounds with the two protagonists of the event emblazoned on the side of their vehicles.
 


Throughout the day, a number of the stars of Saturday night’s fight card take to various social media platforms to interact with fans. Later, Bisping, Silva, Brad Pickett and Tom Breese arrive at London’s famed shopping mecca, Oxford Street, where they strut their stuff to the whoops and applause of a captive audience.

As Bisping makes his way to the matted area, the heightened volume indicates how much the perennial middleweight contender means to England. Asking for the assistance of a young boy in the crowd to help him with his drills, his newly acquired training partner is wide-eyed in awe of “The Count” as he shows him some quick techniques.

As any UK MMA fan will attest, there’s something different about Bisping when he fights on home soil. Having never tasted defeat on home turf in 17 outings, Silva will not only fight the outspoken Mancunian on Saturday, but he will also have to contend with his spirited support.

“The last one in London against Akiyama, that was amazing,” remembered Bisping. “London is such an iconic place and The 02 is such a magnificent arena. That was a great fight and a great victory for me. The crowd was outstanding. I’ve been very lucky that the crowd have always given me a lot of vocal support in the UK and I’m forever grateful for that, it just blows me away. When I first fought at home as UFC fighter, I had no idea of the support I was going to get. It was such an amazing feeling.

“When I get to the arena I always like to have a little sneak peek before my fight. UFC don’t mind me doing it. I just like to feel the energy of the crowd and just get a taste for it. It fuels me, it reminds me of why I do this and what I’m in store for later. I just feed off their energy.”

While he has led the line for his country for many years, Saturday night will force Bisping to lead by example as eight other charges from the UK will also face a variety of international challengers from all over the globe. Undoubtedly, the whole UK cast shares the views of Mike Wilkinson, who insists that Bisping opened the door they are all now walking through with UFC.

 The biggest fight card in the history of UFC FIGHT PASS is Feb. 27. Don't miss it - join now!

“Michael Bisping has done great things for himself, the UFC and for UK MMA. He was one of the first guys from here to get into the UFC and he’s made a big difference for us,” Wilkinson said. “There were a lot of people that said we couldn’t mix it up with the Americans, but Bisping has been there and done that.

“He gave us that hope that UK fighters can make it to the big leagues and they can make a lot of money in doing so. By seeing what he did, all of us knew that we were capable of achieving that too.”

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll

Media

Recent
Follow Karolina Kowalkiewicz as she attempts to get back in the win column against Jodie Esquibel this Saturday at Fight Night Gdansk, live on FIGHT PASS. Prelims get underway 11:30AM/8:30AM ETPT.
17/10/2017
UFC Minute host Lisa Foiles breaks down the recent additions to the Fight Night Winnipeg card.
16/10/2017
UFC Minute host Lisa Foiles takes a look into the stacked card of UFC 218. UFC 218, featuring Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar, is set for Dec. 2 live in Detroit and tickets are on-sale now.
16/10/2017
Go 'On the Fly' with Darren Till as he prepares for the biggest fight of his life against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at Fight Night Gdansk on UFC FIGHT PASS on Saturday, October 21.
16/10/2017