Bisping has found himself to be the center of a great deal of attention in the MMA world. No press is bad press, as they say, and it would seem to ring true. Top contenders in the middleweight division are lining up to fight Bisping by name.
The last two men to fight Anderson Silva for the middleweight title, both top 10 middleweights in the world, have publically requested Bisping for their next fight. Vitor Belfort, via twitter, and the always outspoken Chael Sonnen. In Sonnen’s case he actually emailed Joe Silva personally asking for the fight, as reported by MMAweekly http://mmaweekly.com/chael-sonnen-wants-to-face-michael-bisping-next-in-the-ufc
The cause for Bispings sudden leap in fame is due to what can be considered his most embarrassing fight as a professional against a newfound nemesis, Jorge Rivera.
It all started in the second round when, on the verge of being swept from a dominant position over the downed Rivera, Bisping grabbed the fence to keep his balance. Grab doesn’t quite do the action justice; he clung to the fence like you might cling to front row tickets to UFC 129 in Toronto.
The real crime, however, came minutes later. Rivera, scrambling to gain his feet after being taken down, was nailed with a devastating illegal knee. And this wasn’t a Koschek oscar winning illegal knee either. This was a full on, fight ending, Thai clinch knee to the face. Some might argue that Rivera seemed to recover after a short break, but the fight was essentially ended right there. Rivera soon after seemed to gas out completely and succumbed to a flurry of punches that drove the ref to stop the fight.
As if that weren’t enough Bisping cursed out Rivera and his cornermen, spitting at one of them from behind the fence.
While shocking, there was a good deal of history behind Bisping’s sudden fall from grace. Rivera and his camp, three weeks prior to the fight, unleashed a vicious campaign of videos mocking everything about the Brit, from his fight history to his personality quirks. Bisping’s manager also reports that the driving force behind the videos, Rivera’s boxing coach Matt Phinney was in their corner cursing and taunting Bisping throughout the fight. http://www.wolfslairmma.co.uk/2011/03/the-wolfslair-mma-academy-issues-a-statement-regarding-what-went-down-at-ufc-127/
These are definitely a set of extenuating circumstances, but this does not excuse Bisping’s behavior. Without knowing the history, all anybody watching the Pay Per View would see is an overgrown child spitting and cursing at an opponent cheated into defeat, and would ask themselves how this type of behavior is allowed?
Dana White, president of the UFC, knows this full well, and has promised disciplinary action will be taken on Michael Bisping. Many fans, however, ask if this action will be enough.
While he claims the knee was unintentional, and apologized profusely for his behavior after the fight, Bisping has proven that cheating and poor sportsmanship can be a very profitable endeavor. He scored a much-needed finish over an opponent, and his post-fight antics jumped him straight to the top of the middleweight divisions top ten’s hit-list.
It’s true, he probably would have won anyway, if his dominant wrestling in the first round was any indication. He was able to take Rivera down seemingly at will, and while the illegal knee ended well for Bisping, a point was taken that could have changed a decision, and Rivera had the option to not continue the fight to seal a victory. All the risks aside, it seems Bisping came out of the fight better off then he would have otherwise (if we’re not counting his fan’s opinion of him.).
No sport is perfect, MMA cannot afford to have incidents like this occur. While already huge, and growing fast, the UFC is still in a crucial stage of its development and acceptance as a legitimate sport. Athletic commissions in places such as New York use random acts of temper and ‘accident’ as fodder for arguments to keep the sport banned under their jurisdiction.
A fine and/or suspension looms in the future for Bisping, but how badly would said penalties really affect his career? He’d lose a percentage of his purse, and couldn’t fight for a few months, which he wouldn’t be doing anyway.
What fans want is true justice. In the fight business, this could easily come at the end of a fist, but that would only benefit Bisping in the long run. The only hope is that the penalties Dana impose on him suite the severity of the crime, dissuading the occurrence of similar acts in the future.