SPORTS

Bisping, Miller turn up the heat, stir the pot ahead of 'The Ultimate Fighter'

09/14/2011 05:31 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:19 EST
TORONTO - Michael (The Count) Bisping and Jason (Mayhem) Miller don't fight until December but the two UFC middleweights are already talking up a storm.

England's Bisping (22-3) and California's Miller (24-7 with one no contest) serve as rival coaches on Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show, which debuts Sept. 21.

Taping for the series has already concluded in Las Vegas. The coaches and two finalists will square off on a live televised card Dec. 3.

Neither coach is a shrinking violet and a media conference call Wednesday was longer on entertainment than venom, even though the two tried to take shots at each other and there were a couple of moments of questionable taste.

"As the season wore on, yes I hated his guts," said Miller. "Then I didn't mind him so much. And now I'm back to hating his guts."

Said Bisping: "Jason's one of those guys, 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, so it's all good."

In truth, the two fighters sounded more like brothers at each other's throats than mortal enemies.

"As a person, yeah, I'm going to tell him I hate him," Miller conceded near the end of the call. "But at the end of the day, we're all fighters and there is a brotherhood among fighters."

Bisping also tempered his tone a little bit.

"Hate's a very strong word. I wouldn't say I hate him," said Bisping, less than 30 minutes after saying in fact he did hate him.

"Do I find him irritating, do I find him annoying? Yes, I do. Do I want to fight him on Dec. 3 and kick his ass and shut his big fat mouth? Yes, I do. Do I wish any real harm to him or his family or anything like that? No, I don't."

Bisping is coming off a KO of Jorge (El Conquistador) Rivera in a bout dripping with bad blood in the wake of videos from the Rivera camp that made fun of the Brit.

Rivera maintained it was all in good fun, but an irate Bisping saw it differently, accusing his opponent's camp of insulting his family.

"Miller's annoying for a different reason, just because he's idiotic," said Bisping.

"His mouth is definitely bigger than his brain," he added.

The UFC had hoped to match Chael Sonnen against Bisping but that plan was derailed by Sonnen's drug suspension and conviction for money-laundering.

Enter Miller, a colourful character with a gift for the gab and TV experience from his "Bully Beatdown" show on MTV.

Bisping won Season 3 of "The Ultimate Fighter" and was a coach on Season 9, which featured a U.S. versus United Kingdom format. Dan Henderson coached the American squad and knocked Bisping out when they met at UFC 100.

Bisping's brash approach and lack of a self-edit on the show turned off some and he regularly gets boos on this side of the Atlantic.

The former furniture-maker and DJ, who can be quite charming in real life, says there is a "preconceived image" of him among some American fans. But he says he changed nothing this time around in front of the cameras.

"I've never put an act on ever, I'm always me. And that's why some people care for me and some people don't," he said.

And he noted that the show should be about the fighters rather than the coaches.

Still bad blood between the coaches is always appreciated by the show's producers. Miller says they delivered.

"Me and Mike, just our personality clash, put a damn good show on," said Miller. "There's no way around it. ... They just stuck the camera on us and we made good TV."

This season features bantamweight (135 pounds) and featherweights (135) for the first time.

"They weren't there for air time, they were all real fighters," Bisping said. "And when you see the fights this season, you'll know what I mean."

Said Miller: "We didn't have one lacklustre fight on the entire season."

The initial group of 32 fighters -- they have to win a bout during the show's opening to make the final cast -- includes Winnipeg bantamweight Roland Delorme.

Miller and Bisping seemed to enjoy their verbal sparring Wednesday, even offering some character analysis.

"I'll say this about Michael, he's a complex character -- an individual that you could write many tomes of knowledge on," said Miller, who returns to the UFC after a six-year absence where he fought in Strikeforce, Dream and other organizations.

"If you saying I'm a complex character . . . you have about 15 different personalities," replied Bisping.

At one point during the call, Bisping suggested Miller had prepared for the fight by "warming up on your sister."

TMZ reported in August that Miller had been arrested after allegedly putting his sister in a headlock when she wanted to leave a party.

Bisping also ended the call by ridiculing Ryan Parsons, a member of Miller's coaching team, saying he was a "chiropractor" rather than a doctor or MMA coach.

Miller responded by saying Parsons had coached world champions like Randy Couture and Henderson.

"He's not just a chiropractor," Miller said.

"He's a chiropractor, he's a gay chiropractor," said Bisping, seemingly in a regrettable, ill-advised attempt at humour.

MORE:cpSports