Moments after he stopped Jorge Rivera on second-round punches in the UFC 127 co-main event on Sunday in Sydney, Australia, Bisping (Pictured) appeared to spit in the direction of his vanquished foe’s cornermen. His actions -- which also included face-to-face taunts at Rivera -- drew the immediate ire of Rivera’s handlers at Alchemist MMA.
“For all his talk of being a professional, Bisping spit on Rivera’s coaches when the fight was over,” an Alchemist statement read. “How can you claim to be professional after that?”
In a post-fight interview with MMAFighting.com, Bisping claimed he spit on the canvas directly in front of Rivera’s boxing coach, Matt Phinney, not at any individual. Those claims fell on deaf ears inside the Rivera camp. Rivera’s manager, Lex McMahon, called for “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner to be punished and possibly fined and suspended for his actions.
Bad blood had built exponentially between Rivera and Bisping in the weeks leading up to their bout, as the two middleweights ramped up their rhetoric in pre-fight interviews.
“He was very insulting toward me. He was mocking me on the Internet, talking about myself and my family. But it built up inside me, and I blew up a little bit, so I apologize,” Bisping said during the post-fight press conference. “[The videos] definitely motivated me and made me work harder. Trash talk is part of the game, and I let it get to me too much. But I’m an emotional guy. Everything that comes out of my mouth comes from my heart. I am who I am. He embarrassed me, mocking me all over the world. But I should have been the better man and taken that on the chin a little better.”
Their apparent dislike for one another was only enhanced in the first round, when Bisping landed a brutal illegal knee to the head of the downed Massachusetts native, nearly resulting in a premature stoppage. Rivera decided to remain in the fight, perhaps to his detriment. Bisping ultimately put him away in the second round, as he battered him with punches and knees against the cage. A final volley sent Rivera to one knee, and the referee intervened.
“The knee was illegal and flush on the face,” the Alchemist MMA statement read, “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. [Bisping] won. That’s all there is to it.”
Some have called the knee intentional. Bisping denied such claims.
“The knee certainly wasn’t on purpose,” he said. “He was getting up off the ground, and I pulled the trigger too early. It happens a lot. This is a fast-moving sport. No one wants to see a fight won or lost in that fashion.”