UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch has come and gone and fight fans everywhere get to look forward to UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann in 3D on VS this Thursday night in Louisville, Kentucky.
One of the fights with a lot of manufactured, albeit legitimate hype surrounding it on the card last night was between the Englishman Michael Bisping and the American Jorge Rivera.
Jorge Rivera was part of a spoof interview where he mocked and made fun of his interviewee, a Michael Bisping impersonator. The cocky Brit didn't take the trash talk from Rivera in stride and really seemed inept at being able to handle a dose of his own medicine.
Bisping in all pre-fight interviews was quick to go on about how Rivera wasn't being fair, was being silly and how he had a fight to concentrate on and that was all that mattered. Bisping even went as far as to say that he was older now and was maturing as a fighter and a person. Trash talk has been Bisping's claim to fame for some time now, much to the bitter disdain of the fans. Nobody will forget the trash Bisping dished out towards opposing coach on the Ultimate Fighter Dan Henderson. Nobody will forget how quickly the trash talk was shut down by Henderson's right hand when they met.
Some say the Henderson fight humbled Michael Bisping and that is probably somewhat the case. Bisping has definitely toned his loud mouth down, but he can still raise his voice. He didn't openly insult Jorge Rivera, he kept it cool leading up to the fight just re-iterating his annoyance with the American and that come fight time he'd let his talent inside the octagon do the talking. Maybe Michael really turned a corner in his career, maybe Michael was going to become that humble yet talented fighter that the fans all love to watch. Alas, seems as if people were hoping for too much from Michael.
For what Bisping didn't say outside of the octagon, his actions inside the octagon spoke much louder than words ever could.
The fight between Bisping and Rivera ended up being rather one-sided. Despite dominating the fight, Bisping did get caught by the stiff right hand of his opponent, something the Brit hasn't been able to avoid since being knocked out by Dan Henderson five fights ago. Right hand aside, Bisping did a good job of avoiding damage from Rivera and used his superior wrestling and ground game to exploit Rivera on the ground.
Bisping's game-plan was great, but his classlessness that so many people have despised him for came through once again. At about the mid-way point in round one Rivera and Bisping were scrambling on the ground, Bisping stood up while Rivera was on his knees. With Rivera's head in his hands Bisping wound up and delivered a massive illegal knee to the head of his grounded opponent.
For a while it looked as if Rivera was too wobbly to continue and many thought the fight was going to be ended via doctor stoppage. Rivera, being the warrior that he is stood up and told the doctor he wanted to continue. Despite continuing, Bisping was simply too much for Rivera as the Brit stopped the American with a swarm of punches in round two.
Bisping came away with another victory, but one has to ask how much did that illegal knee affect Rivera? Secondly, Bisping once again lost a lot of respect from the fans.
Does Michael Bisping deserve credit despite his lack of professionalism?
Of course, illegal knees happen by accident and even though the fashion in which Bisping landed the knee appeared completely intentional one could have given him the benefit of the doubt. That being said Bisping's post fight interview with Joe Rogan erased any glimmer of doubt people may have had.
Bisping apologised, but not because it was accident. Bisping told Rogan and the Australian fans that Rivera touched a few nerves during the pre-fight hype and that he let it get the better of him. Seriously Michael? You are a professional athlete competing on the biggest stage and you let a little pre-fight trash talk and fight hype get under your skin to the point that you had to use an illegal maneuver to "Shut" your opponent up?
Bisping may have won his third straight fight and he maybe feels ready for a title shot with one more solid win, but he has a lot of work to do on his public image and his temper before getting that shot. Fans would have probably preferred the trash talking Bisping of old to the disgrace that walked out of the octagon last night.
Leon Horne has been contributing to Bleacher Report for two years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates: