What could have been a decisive victory over Jorge Rivera that actually endeared Michael Bisping to the fans turned into one more reason why many MMA fans find it difficult to cheer for “The Count.”
Rivera had needled Bisping non-stop throughout the build up to their middleweight contest and the Englishman uncharacteristically kept his mouth shut, opting to take the high road and deigning not to reply to Rivera’s taunts. Bisping vowed to do his talking in the cage and he delivered, though the statement he made has many shaking their heads in disappointment.
Bisping showed the ability to take Rivera down at will, which surprised no one, and even took a few of Rivera’s lauded right hands before initially marring his victory by landing a seemingly blatant illegal knee. Only Bisping knows for sure if it was simply the heat of the moment, as he claims, or if he meant to damage Rivera as payback. Regardless, “The Count” delivered a knee flush to Rivera’s forehead while “Él Conquistador” had both knees on the mat. After getting a point deducted and waiting for Rivera to recover, Bisping continued his assault, which carried over into the second round until the accumulated damage overwhelmed Rivera, who slumped to the mat in a heap as the ref called a stop to the fight.
From there, Bisping would demand that Rivera apologize to him before telling him to, “Go home, loser” and then allegedly spitting at his cornermen. Rivera’s camp has said that Bisping should be suspended for his antics, and his management team, Alchemist MMA, sent the following statement to SBNation.com.
“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 addressed the knee strike during the UFC 127 post-fight presser, saying that it was unintentional and that he simply got carried away in the fight.
“The knee certainly wasn’t on purpose,” said Bisping. “You get excited in the heat of the fight. He was getting up off the ground. I had him in a Thai clinch. I was waiting to time it to knee him in the head. I got a little over-excited and pulled the trigger too early. It happens quite a lot. It’s a fast-moving sport. I certainly didn’t mean to do it, and I was very glad that the fight was able to continue. No one wants to see a fight won or lost in that fashion.”
As far as the spitting allegations are concerned, Bisping told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he writes them off as “one classless move after another” and denies actually spitting on anyone in Rivera’s corner.
“No, not at all,” he said when asked if he spit at Rivera’s cornermen. “I was spitting on the floor to let him know what I thought of him. I apologized for that, and I never want to act like that.”
There has been no official word as of yet indicating whether or not Bisping will be punished or if Rivera’s team plans on filing a formal complaint with the athletic commission which oversaw the fight.