Fireworks expected during coming season of The Ultimate Fighter

Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller are set to host the latest season of The Ultimate...

Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller are set to host the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. Fans of the show can expect fireworks between the two outspoken fighters. (AFP)

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 PM ET

TORONTO - There’s no denying last season’s Ultimate Fighter coaches Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar made for dry television.

Though the two served their fighters well, the show lacked that certain spark to keep fans hooked.

It’s no surprise then that the UFC has opted for two of the more polarizing fighters on its roster, Michael Bisping and Jason (Mayhem) Miller, to coach on the next season of TUF.

If Wednesday’s conference call is any indication, the middleweights are going to be at each other’s throats the entire time.

“I’ll tell you this about Michael: He is a complex character, an individual you could write many tomes of knowledge on,” Miller said. “As the season wore on — yes, I hated his guts. And then I didn’t mind him so much, but now I’m back to hating his guts.

“Go ahead, Mike,” Miller added, opening the door for the brash Brit’s rebuttal.

“OK, if you’re saying I’m a complex character … you have about 15 different personalities,” Bisping countered. “Jason’s one of those guys where you either love him or you hate him. I definitely hate him. I think most people around him find him very, very annoying. I know people on The Ultimate Fighter did and I was no different. At the start of the show I hated him, during the show I hated him and at the end of the show I hated him.

“Dec. 3, I’m going to kick his ass.”

If this is how they act when put together on the same phone call, you can only imagine what the show is going to be like. The two-hour premiere episode airs Sept. 21 and will feature bantamweight and featherweight competitors battling for a spot in the UFC.

Once the reality TV portion is finished, Miller and Bisping will finally get to settle their beef in the live finale this winter. The event will also determine the season’s TUF winners.

But with so much animosity between the coaches, it’s not unfathomable they will grab the spotlight away from the competitors.

Miller said their back-and-forth exchanges made for entertaining TV, which itself prompted another heated exchange between the two.

“Yeah, I definitely got under his skin,” Miller said. “You’ll see as the season plays out. Apart from the unbelievable fights that happened on The Ultimate Fighter … me and Mike, our personality clash definitely put a damn good show on. I credit the UFC for making that decision to put us opposite of each other.

“We both have strong personalities and they were bound to clash.”

“Sounds like you’re trying to sweeten me up there so I don’t beat you too badly on Dec. 3, Jason,” Bisping interrupted.

BAD BLOOD

“Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re way worse an idiot than I am,” Miller responded. “I’m going to smash your face and choke you out.”

Though Bisping admits he was willing to engage Miller to ensure fireworks, nothing was fabricated on the show.

“Anything I do, I want to put my heart and soul into it and be successful,” Bisping said. “It’s going to involve me spending a lot of time away from my family and away from my training.

“I want it to be a good season. I want there to be good fights and good interaction between the coaches. There was nothing staged, nothing put on for those reasons.”

Bisping has won four of his last five and is gunning for a shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Though he could be only a win or two away from achieving that goal, Bisping doesn’t feel a win over Miller will mean much in the rankings.

Despite this, he didn’t hesitate to accept the show.

“I never pondered whether or not I should take it, but the reality is there is a downside,” Bisping said. “The downside is that it means almost 10 months out of the game. I like to stay active. It means taking a fight against Jason Miller, which — with respect — doesn’t get me a title shot by beating him.

BIG CHANCE

“This was always a big opportunity for Jason. He went from fighting on the undercard to fighting in the main event against me.”

“At the end of the day, Michael Bisping had to sign off on this and say, ‘Yeah OK, let’s do it,’” Miller interrupted. “So I have to take my hat off to him. That being said, I cannot do anything but beat you up, Mike. So I apologize.”

“It’s quite all right,” Bisping responded. “I’ll be sending you on your way back to the undercards real soon.”

But if there’s one thing the two can agree upon, it’s about the level of fighters on TUF this season.

“The UFC hadn’t picked up these weight classes until this year,” Miller said. “What’s crazy about it is … it wasn’t the normal TUF crowd. You know, where it’s some guys who are like 2-0 coming into The Ultimate Fighter. Some of these guys had like 30 fights.

“These guys were already great fighters and it was just all about the competition. We didn’t have one lacklustre fight on the entire season.”

“I’d just like to add to that,” Bisping interjected. “Jason’s completely right. You didn’t have to show them and teach them too many things. You just had to nurture them and structure their training.”

• • •

Nick Diaz says he wouldn’t have ditched two press events had he known it would cost him his title shot.

“I’m not trying to make all these little excuses,” Diaz told MMA Junkie. “If I’d have known the fight was going to be off, I would have gone to the press conference.

“I didn’t know it was supposed to be a press conference until the same day I was supposed to be making it to the press conference. I just don’t like the way people are treating it and acting like I backed out of a fight. Why would I do that?”

Diaz spent years calling out UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre before earning his chance at the belt. After the two media no-shows, he now finds himself in the co-main event against B.J. Penn.

But just because the title opportunity has been taken away from him, doesn’t mean he’s done ripping on the Montreal native.

“The bottom line is Georges is being a little b-----,” Diaz said. “He didn’t step up and say anything when the UFC pulled me out of this fight … He sits there like a robot and doesn’t say anything at all, just like he’s not going to say anything about me calling him a b----- now. If I saw B.J. Penn walking down the street and called him a b-----, we would be fighting right there on the spot.

“The truth is Georges doesn’t want to fight me in the street or in a cage. He knows who I am, and he knows where I came from.”

• • •

The UFC’s return engagement in Toronto is starting to take shape.

UFC 140, which takes place Dec. 10 at the Air Canada Centre, will see both Nogueira brothers compete on the same card for the first time in over five years.

Former PRIDE heavyweight champion and UFC interim titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will look to avenge his loss to Frank Mir, while Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will take on Tito Ortiz.

As usual, a number of Canadian fighters will be featured on the card.

Kelowna, B.C.’s Rory MacDonald meets crafty veteran Brian Ebersole; Toronto’s Mark Bocek faces Nik Lentz; Mississauga, Ont., native Claude Patrick squares off with Rich Attonito; John Makdessi of Laval, Que., fights Dennis Hallman; and Saskatoon’s Mitch Clarke battles fellow UFC newcomer John Cholish.

Stay tuned for more matchups.

• • •

Well, I don’t think anyone saw this one coming.

Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le will meet Vitor Belfort in the UFC 139 main event.

The bout, set for Nov. 19 in San Jose, Calif., is the first of six on the Sanshou practitioner’s UFC contract.

Le, 39, hasn’t fought since June 26, 2010, when he avenged his only career loss to Scott Smith. Since then he has turned his attention towards acting, starring in upcoming films alongside the likes of Russell Crowe, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Weller and Lucy Liu.

But with movies behind him, Le is now focused on one of the top knockout artists in the middleweight division.

“Vitor was the only one offered to me, and when they said, ‘Hey Cung, we’d like you to fight Vitor,’ I said yes,” Le said Monday on the MMA Hour. “Go big or go home.

“We’ll find out who’s more dangerous come Nov. 19.”


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