Commentary

Bisping has last word against Rivera

Originally Published: February 27, 2011
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

SYDNEY -- Apparently, the beef between Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera was real.

At least that much can be said regarding Bisping, who wore his emotions on his sleeve during and after a second-round TKO win over Rivera at UFC 127 on Sunday afternoon local time.

Moments after stopping Rivera with punches in the second round, Bisping paraded around the Octagon and then continued yelling at the dazed Rivera.

Afterward, a very apologetic Bisping said he got out of hand.

"He said a lot of things, some of which were below the belt in my opinion," Bisping told ESPN.com. "I didn't respond to it and maybe I should have instead of letting it grow inside me.

"I tried my best to take the higher ground and I think I messed up in the end. It is what it is and I apologize. I put on a good performance and I don't want to tarnish it by acting like an idiot."

The tension was caused by Internet videos Rivera (19-8) and his team released prior to the fight, mocking Bisping (21-3) for his fighting style and taking perceived shots at his British heritage.

After repeatedly apologizing for his postfight behavior, Bisping did say his children saw the videos and were harassed because of them at school.

"My kids are watching these things," Bisping said. "My son is getting teased on the playground. You can't say these things and not expect me to react. I did react. I beat him and I should have left it at that."

Rivera was not available to comment. Following the UFC 127 event he was transported to a local hospital for cautionary reasons.

Bisping held control throughout the majority of the fight, mostly via his takedowns, a strategy many anticipated the Brit to utilize.

A key moment came during the first round when Bisping, standing over a grounded Rivera, threw an illegal knee that caught Rivera in the face.

The action was stopped momentarily and Bisping was deducted a point for the illegal shot. Although Rivera appeared to have recovered by the time the fight resumed, it was an obvious advantage for Bisping and one he, of course, apologized for.

"Of course I was worried [the fight might be stopped]," Bisping said. "There had been a lot of buildup to this fight. I didn't want it to end like that. He was getting up to the feet from a takedown and I had him in the Thai clinch. I was waiting for him to stand up and I got a little excited and mistimed it.

"I threw it too early and I apologize. Fortunately, he was OK and the fight continued."

While Bisping described the knee as mistimed, social media exploded Sunday with fans calling it an intentional cheap shot.

That appeared to be the case to UFC president Dana White, who said he believed the knee was an intentional move by Bisping, based on emotion.

"It absolutely looked intentional," White said. "He walked over to the corner and I said, 'You hit him with a knee. You're not supposed to [hit him with a knee].' Listen, I don't care how much you don't like a guy, you don't start doing stuff like that.'

"Even after the fight, these guys are all emotional? I'm pretty sure it's over now. That stuff drives me crazy."

While the result of the fight is tainted for some now, it's doubtful the win Bisping posted Sunday will have anything but a positive effect regarding his status in the 185-pound division.

The 31-year-old fighter is 3-0 in his past three fights and, despite his behavior, is coming off a dominant win over Rivera.

"He won tonight and he won impressively," White said. "Let's face it, you can hate Bisping but he came in tonight and beat Jorge Rivera. Rivera knocks people out and he hit Bisping with some good shots. Bisping took them and ended up finishing the fight.

"You have to give him his respect. Whether you don't like him or not, you have to respect the guy."

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.