Michael Bisping. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC.
During all of the pre-fight banter leading up his anticipated meeting against Jorge Rivera, Michael Bisping claims that he took the high road. The Wolfslair product claimed that Rivera's series of YouTube videos mocking Bisping and posted up until the fight were childish.
Bisping insinuated that Rivera had taken things to a personal level, even going as far as to take shots at Bisping's family. According to Bisping, Rivera wasn't acting like a professional athlete.
Yet we fast forward to last night at UFC 127 in Australia, where during and following Bisping's second-round TKO of Rivera, the Brit was seen delivering a blatant illegal knee and attempting to wind up the crowd during Rivera's recovery time, flipping off and spitting at Rivera's cornermen and continuing to confront Rivera after the fight was over.
I'm hardly surprised by Bisping's behavior as I'm sure is the case for many others, but the story of his actions is one that needs to be told.
This isn't the first time that Bisping has come under fire. We all recall his water bottle incident (1:00, 1:58 mark) with DaMarques Johnson during the ninth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show.
Less than a year ago, Bisping used the term "faggot" during a pre-fight press conference for his UFC 114 fight against Dan Miller. He went back to it again during this weekend's weigh-in festivities, and the UFC should have likely edited the comment out of UFC President Dana White's video blog.
As far as the usage of the word goes, I don't have that much of a problem with it. Joe Rogan put it best when he came under scrutinity for using it some months back. There are multiple meanings of the word. Neither Bisping or Rogan meant it under a homophobic context.
My problem with all of this is the fact that Bisping is continually contradicting himself. He claims that he's a very emotional guy, that he wears his heart on his sleeve. That's fine, but at the same token, Bisping shouldn't be so sensitive to the fact that he remains one of the most disliked athletes in the sport today. His words paint himself as a professional while his actions do the exact opposite, and have been for years now.
I'm a proponent for the budo side of MMA. Nothing warms my heart more than to see two fighters show nothing but respect for each other after a hard-fought bout. At the end of the day, that's what this is all about. No one should be out there trying to seriously injure their opponent. MMA is all about competition and testing yourself and your skill set.
In terms of Saturday's incident, Rivera's camp is looking for Bisping to be punished (from a statement released by Alchemist MMA, who manages Rivera):
For the Jorge Rivera - Michael Bisping fight - the knee was illegal and flush on the face. But instead of taking a dive and possibly the win, Jorge fought on. Bisping tagged Jorge while BOTH of his knees were on the canvas. He wasn't the same afterward but fought on anyway. How many fighters would be able to fight on after that?
The stoppage was quick, but we won't fight it. He won. That's all there is to it. But for all his talk of being a professional, Bisping spit on Rivera's coaches when the fight was over. How can you claim to be a professional after that?
Bisping says that Rivera and his camp need to get over it:
"He was very, very insulting towards me – very insulting," Bisping said at UFC 127's post-event press conference. "He was mocking me on the Internet. He was saying all kinds of things, making stupid videos talking about myself and my family – all kinds of stuff. I bit my tongue and said nothing, but it just kind of blew up inside me, and I blew up a little bit. I apologize for that.
"I shouldn't behave like that, but I think he just needs to accept he got beat and get over it."
One thing I find absolutely hysterical is Bisping stating that he didn't spit at Rivera's cornermen, only the ground near them to show "how he felt about them". C'mon, man.
Should Bisping be reprimanded? We'll let the UFC decide that one. Just remember that the fight took place in Australia. No athletic commission will probably result in no action.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that pre-fight trash talk can be interpreted a few different ways, but how you react towards it is more important than you think. Rivera's videos were meant to do nothing more than bust balls. That much is obvious. They were meant to be for entertainment and nothing more, sort of how I believe Chael Sonnen's kayfabe act is based.
But, leave it to Bisping to take things to a personal level for no good reason, as he has done before. For the record, Rivera and his camp made no mention of Bisping's family during any of the videos, at least that I spotted.
So in the future, I hope that Bisping thinks twice before critcizing the behavior of his opponent. He can still continue to blindly defend himself at all costs against his detractors, or he could finally realize that he needs to start acting like these professional fighters that he keeps on criticizing. Wouldn't that be something?
Next entry: The Aftermath: UFC 127