MICHAEL BISPING believes February 27 opponent Anderson Silva is not the fighter he was in his prime. But in assessing the aura that Silva projected at his peak – one Bisping no longer perceives – he drew an intriguing comparison with Ireland’s UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. Michael Bisping says Conor McGregor has an advantage Silva once possessed.

“The key is to not give Silva too much respect,” Bisping explained to Fighting Fit. “Opponents in the past have been terrified and that allows him the space to get comfortable. It’s like with Conor McGregor, he has that psychological edge, he has his opponents beat before the start of the fight and that was certainly true of Silva in his prime. But Nick Diaz didn’t allow that [in January 2015] and we saw a different Anderson Silva. He beat Diaz on the cards before the positive drug test changed the result, but the fight was so close. I have to fight my fight and treat him like anyone else. I know I’m faster than him, better than him and I can beat him.”

Following the Diaz fight, Silva was suspended for a year due to multiple positive tests and his win was altered to a No Contest. But Bisping feels the performance against Diaz was just the latest example of a once imperious fighter losing his  composure and confidence.

“Against Chris Weidman the first time [in July 2013] he was messing around and he got caught and knocked out,” Bisping recalled. “That messed with him big time and I know that for a fact. I watched the [December 2013] rematch from ringside. Now I know how long it takes to walk from backstage to the Octagon, and it took him forever; he was nervous, he didn’t wanna come out. Two-to-three seats to my left was Vitor Belfort and as Anderson was having his Vaseline put on he lunged after Vitor and had to be dragged back. Talk about a lack of focus! Why are you thinking about Vitor Belfort when you’re about to step into the Octagon with someone who has knocked you out?! Weidman was en route to wining that one before Silva hurt his leg.”