UFC legend Clitheroe Michael Bisping in Manchester for “Tales from the Octagon” tour
Retired mixed martial artist Clitheroe, now a top commentator in the UFC and host of the “Believe You Me” podcast, will be making no effort when he takes to the Manchester O2 Apollo stage on Friday, October 8.
From making its way across the country in its early years while working in factories and sleeping in cars, to crossing the Atlantic and winning gold in the UFC, this show will take viewers on a ride. entertaining through the extraordinary life of the count.
How do you feel about doing this tour, must it be pretty exciting?
Yeah that’s exciting, a little scary too to be honest. I did one in 2019. It sort of formed accidentally. A friend of a friend who’s an agent pitched it as an idea and I was on tour quite a bit at the time so I was like “yeah why not?” We did and we kind of winged it and everyone loved it! There were about 600/700 people and it was a great time. I laughed a lot. Everyone enjoyed it and I was like “wow, I’m going to take this back to England and Scotland and the rest”. I’m excited like I say a little nervous because it would be a bit embarrassing to go out and no one was there. For me in the UK the support I have always received when fighting has been amazing so this is a great opportunity to come back and reconnect with everyone who has supported my career.
Looks like you are looking forward to it. Looks like it’s gonna be great fun having fun with your fans. Not a boring and serious sporting thing?
100%! If anyone has seen my podcast, they know we’re a little bit of a dumb and laugh at ourselves and at each other, without being mean by giving a damn about anything and everything. So it’s going to be in that tone, self-mockery just laughing with the audience and me and Luis going back and forth. It’s going to be nice, the idea is for everyone to come and have a good laugh.
Obviously the UK has always been close to your heart because that’s where it all started for you, so bringing it back here makes it even more special?
100%. I am so grateful for all the support I have ever received. The first time I fought for UFC was at UFC 70, I didn’t expect anyone in the arena to know who I was – and when I walked out, it exploded! It blew me away from that day and I wanted to thank everyone for their support because people really supported me and supported me. So for me, coming to Scotland, England and Ireland… that’s a big problem. I’ve always been the guy who says what’s on my mind, maybe wrongly sometimes, who got me in hot water, but I think people resonate with that by doing that. I’m very excited, Manchester, London, Glasgow, Dublin. I have a lot of Irish family so it will be good to connect with some of them too, hopefully.
You had this incredible motivation to support your family, that was what mattered to you, right? It was the real motivation.
Of course, 100%. You want to give your children and your partner the best possible life. Fortunately, I found a way to better offer it to them. It was a gamble back then, mixed martial arts was not the sport it is now, no one knew what I was doing. It didn’t make sense to a lot of people, but luckily it all paid off. It was always the motivation.
It really was the start, did you realize that back when the UFC came to you, you knew it was time to change your life?
I had no idea to be honest. I was in Las Vegas living in a mansion with a bunch of other people on a reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter and I was like “wow, this is real”. A lot of people were just there to have a good time, watch TV, and get some fame, but none of that mattered to me. I was there to win that easy. Luckily I was able to do it, but when I had my first fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I was there on my own, with no corner men or anything, and I walked out. I couldn’t believe the arena erupted because I had been on TV in America for 12 weeks and thought “it’s not bad”. At the time, I was a little oblivious to this.
Was it a dime drop moment? Go out into the arena that night or maybe after when you’ve won.
Yeah, that was good in Vegas from an American point of view. But I didn’t know that in England when I came back to Clitheroe it’s just a small town so I had no idea. But when I got out, they became ballistic. Some reporters said they had been in a building for Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and had never heard such a loud crowd, it was deafening. The adrenaline rushed to my head, I sprinted all the way to the Octagon so yeah that’s when I realized everyone in England had been watching too and it had paid.
When you hurt your eye it must have been quite strange in a way because you won the world title and defended it with one eye. You almost must have wanted to tell people that back then, because that made it an even bigger achievement. But you couldn’t because you would be prevented from fighting.
I did it yeah, and to be honest I remember the first Rockhold fight I lost. above my good eye. I remember walking into the arena on fight day and a UFC staff member rushed over to me and said ‘Michael the doctor needs to see you’ and I said ‘why’ and they said ‘it’s something to do with your eye’. My heart sank and I thought ‘I’m scolding’. I went to the doctor and he said “you have stitches in your eye Michael, we’re going to take them out, you can’t fight on TV with stitches in your eye”. I thought I dodged another bullet. They took the stitches out and in the first round of the fight there was an immediate head clash, the cut opened and there was blood flowing in my eye and I only have one . I can’t really see so I wiped the blood off and it smeared it over my eye, but then more blood comes in and when I blink it’s all just red and I can’t really see. It’s like taking a can of paint and pouring it on your windshield and then turning on your wipers, it’s going to be all blurry. So I couldn’t really see when I wiped it on my eye, I guess I got a head butt and I was done, I had to stand there and take it and I wanted to say to the press conference that I was blind but if I said that I was scolded and that my career was over. So it was hard. I had to bite my tongue and not say anything, but that’s why I knew in the rematch I was so confident because I was like I knew what had happened but I couldn’t to say it.