There was a time when Brad Tavares couldnt stand Michael Bisping. He was annoyed by The Count and watched Bispings fights hoping hed get knocked out. Tavares said when Dan Henderson knocked out Bisping at UFC 100, it was one of his favorite finishes of all time.
Theres no better feeling when you just cant stand somebody and that happens, Tavares said of Hendersons attitude toward Bisping on Mondays edition of The MMA Hour.
Things have changed in recent years. Tavares is now actually fond of Bisping. Hes been wanting to fight him for years theres a Twitter exchange going back to 2014 of Tavares asking for a fight. But its no longer about vitriol for Tavares. Its more about respect.
It became more of, I actually really respect the dude and I was actually really happy for him when he won the [middleweight] belt, Tavares said. Hes been at it for so long and I felt like he deserved all those things.
Tavares, 30, hopes to be Bispings opponent in Bispings final fight. He said as much after beating Krzysztof Jotko via third-round TKO at UFC on FOX 29 earlier this month in Glendale, Ariz. After that bout, Tavares ran into Bisping backstage. Bisping, who was working as a desk analyst on Fox for that show, told him in no uncertain terms to get out of his face, Tavares said at the time.
It wasnt like Tavares sought Bisping out it just happened.
I didnt, Tavares said. It was just by chance. Im not one of those guys that will talk shit on Twitter or talk shit and say stuff in front of the cameras. Im me. The Bisping fight is a fight Ive wanted for years now years and years.
That is the point Tavares wants to hammer home. This is not a new thing. Tavares has been trying to get that Bisping fight for a while now, back before Bisping won the middleweight title from Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016.
Ive been sick of people saying, Oh, why you trying to pick on Mike? Tavares said. Theyre kind of just writing him off like hes a chump, but hes not. Like, Oh, hes trying to retire, why you trying to bully him? This, that, whatever. Its like, what the f*ck are you guys talking about? Ive been trying to fight this dude. Ive got nothing but respect for him, but at the end of the day dont call me a bully. If hes scared, hes scared. I cant force him to fight. If he doesnt want it, he doesnt want it.
The UFC might not want it, either. Tavares confirmed that the UFC has approached him about fighting top prospect Israel Adesanya next. Tavares isnt as excited about that fight, but hes willing to take it, provided the UFC renews his contract. He only has one fight left on that deal.
Honestly, I dont think the kid Israel deserves a fight with me, Tavares said. But if thats what the UFC wants and theyre gonna pay me, I dont care who it is standing across from me. Ill smash him.
When it comes to Bisping, Tavares is not sure if itll ever happen. He knows that window is closing. And he doesnt think The Count will sign on the dotted line anyway.
He doesnt want to fight me for his last fight, Tavares said. So, Im not holding my breath.