TUF talk between odd couple

NEIL SPRINGER, SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

LAS VEGAS -- When Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping were announced as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, it seemed like the mixed martial arts equivalent of "The Odd Couple."

Henderson (24-7) was the laid back, reserved veteran, while Bisping (17-1) was the trash-talking Brit with everything to prove.

However, no one could have predicted that Henderson would deliver the most memorable line of the season, the ninth for TUF. After listening to Bisping's constant smack-talk, Henderson called him a douche bag to his face.

"I mean, he is a bit of a douche bag," Henderson said. "He's just not someone I'd hang out with. He's not a bad person. I think he's obviously been called that in the past. From my understanding, it's pretty much a consensus around the world."

Henderson was the first fighter in MMA history to hold simultaneous belts in two different weight classes, capturing the PRIDE welterweight and middleweight belts -- the equivalent to the UFC middleweight and light-heavyweight straps. Bisping, on the other hand, made a name for himself by winning the third season of The Ultimate Fighter.

With their TUF coaching duties now behind them, the two are set to face each other in the octagon Saturday during UFC 100 at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Though some time has passed since Henderson's remark on the reality show, it still irks Bisping.

"It did (come out of nowhere) and he said a few other remarks," Bisping said. "He said, 'You need to get on the treadmill and do cardio to beat me.' Obviously, I'm going to take that personally. I dedicate my life to this sport.

"Right now, I'm very annoyed and I think it's safe to say I fight way better when I'm annoyed. I hit harder, I'm faster and he'll pay the price."

Bisping went on to say that at UFC 100 he's going to "kill" Henderson.

"Obviously I didn't mean it like that," Bisping said, laughing. "He said a few things about me; I think he's disrespecting me a little. He's disrespecting my skills. I'm going to teach him a lesson come Saturday."

For a sport where opponents tend to talk rather highly of one another's abilities, both men seem to have thrown respect right out the window. The animosity appears genuine.

In a storied fighting career, 38-year-old Henderson has fought many of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, including Rich Franklin, Anderson Silva, Quinton Jackson, Wanderlei Silva and Canadian Carlos Newton. He said that while Bisping is a big name in the sport, he's not the toughest opponent out there.

"I'm not very nervous about any one thing," Henderson said. "I think his best chances are to move around and out-point me and out-condition me. I'm just going to go in there and make him fight me, not run around. Just get in his face and stay there."

When pressed on how he sees himself winning, Henderson's answer was simple: "By bad beat-down."

Bisping, a 30-year-old fighting out of Liverpool, England, hasn't thrown down with the same quality of opponent as Henderson but has lost just once, to Rashad Evans at UFC 78. Still, he figures Henderson won't pose any problems he can't handle.

"I don't see too many areas I need to worry about," Bisping said. "Obviously he's got Olympic wrestling, but I've addressed that problem (in training). He might take me down, but I'll just get right back up. And on the ground, he's in danger of being submitted.

"I feel it's not a contest. Yeah, he's effective and hits hard, but I feel he'll have problems connecting."

When questioned further about why he's not concerned about a fighter with a track record the likes of Henderson, Bisping said no one had fought him properly in the past.

"He just beat Rich Franklin and it was a very, very close fight," Bisping said. "I personally feel that Rich Franklin won that fight. Regardless of that, Dan's hand was raised in that fight. He's only one of three people to do that -- (Lyoto) Machida and Anderson (Silva) were the other two. He's obviously still up there.

"I just feel people have made mistakes in the past against him. They let him fight his fight and stand right in front of him."

Henderson also took the opportunity to criticize his opponent's last outing. In that fight, Bisping earned a unanimous decision over Chris Leben at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England.

"I'm not the same fighter as Leben," Henderson said. "I'm a little bit smarter. I won't just follow him around trying to land one punch the whole time. I'm going to make him fight me. I'm going to cut him off a lot better. Leben made a lot of mistakes and still didn't do too bad.

"Style-wise and everything else I think it benefits me."


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