"I'm shocked," Bisping today told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
). "I'm getting a lot of respect. I'm getting a lot of people rooting for me and not Vitor, surprisingly.
"With that said, I'm still expecting them to boo me on Saturday night. But a lot of people are saying to me, 'F--- Vitor! Kill that motherf---er!' Seriously, I've got it on video of them chanting it at the mall yesterday. But yeah, I'm still expecting to get booed, of course."
In all likelihood, Bisping is a single win away from a long-awaited shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In Saturday's FX-televised headliner at Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Gymnasium, Bisping (23-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) takes on Belfort (21-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC), who fights for the first time since a failed bid to take the 205-pound title, at 185 pounds.
UFC President Dana White said a win likely will earn Bisping, who fights for the 18th time under the UFC banner, an elusive title shot. However, much of the pre-fight attention hasn't focused on Bisping's championship chances, and instead, it's centered on Belfort's evasive answers about testosterone-replacement therapy and whether or not he's using it.
It's something that's annoyed Bisping.
"I'll be honest: I'm very disappointed," Bisping said. "I could be a little controversial here, but for someone who talks about honor and respect and f---ing Jesus and the Bible and all that, he's been busted for steroids in the past, he's dodging questions about TRT, and obviously he sounds like he's on it. Otherwise he'd just be answering the question.
"That's disappointing. That said, I'm focused on what I'm going to do. It's going to be a tough fight, but he could be on f---ing rocket fuel for all I care. Saturday night he's in for an ass-kicking."
Bisping most recently fought in September, when he defeated Brian Stann. It marked the Brit's fourth win in five fights, and the lone loss came in a close title eliminator with Chael Sonnen.
Against Belfort – who's defeated the likes of Anthony Johnson, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Rich Franklin in recent years – most fans believe a long fight favors Bisping and a shorter one favors his opponent.
Bisping, though, doesn't think that's necessarily the case.
"It's not that simple," he said. "I'm expecting Vitor to be able to go five rounds. He fought Jon (Jones) not that long ago, so some of that conditioning is going to carry over into this camp. But from what I hear, he's lost a lot of muscle mass, so that's going to influence his stamina.
"As fights go on, I generally get stronger, even in sparring. Don't get me wrong, though. I can finish this guy in the first round as well. I know I haven't had the one-punch knockouts or whatever in the UFC. I've had plenty in my career before the UFC, but I had them before the UFC. So who knows, you could see that Saturday night. But if I were to predict? Third- or fourth-round TKO."