FIVE YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: Hansen on UFC 127’s talking points, including thoughts on Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera

By Rich Hansen MMATorch Columnist

Michael Bisping was a part of some controversy on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 84, five years to the day from another somewhat controversial performance back at UFC 127. Five years ago today, Torch Columnist Rich Hansen had plenty to say about that Feb. 27, 2011 event, including on Bisping’s fight with Jorge Rivera. Head back five years ago with this flashback to Hansen’s commentary.


The following was first published on Feb. 27, 2011

Lighweight And Welterweight Chaos Lessened Slightly

Coming into UFC 127, the UFC was in the enviable position of having too many contenders at lightweight, and in danger of not having enough contenders at welterweight. But with George Sotiropoulos losing in convincing fashion to the under-appreciated Dennis Siver, and with B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch fighting to a majority draw, both of those problems have been lessened.

1.) At lightweight, the UFC has #1 Frankie Edgar facing off, again, against #2 Gray Maynard at UFC 130 in May. After that fight, Joe Silva will have a long list of contenders to choose from for the next Lightweight Title shot. That list included Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Melvin Guillard, Sean Sherk, and until last night George Sotiropoulos. The UFC has done a good job building up such a long list of names to contend for the Lightweight Championship, but has done less well at sorting the order that the remaining challengers are in line. Removing Sotiropoulos from contention doesn’t help sort that list, but it does shorten the line for Joe Silva and Dana White. Sotiropoulos can get back in line with a few more victories, and could be back in contention in a year or two, which should be enough time for the division to sort itself out a little bit.

2.) Assuming Georges St-Pierre defeats Jake Shields and then leaves the welterweight division for the middleweight division, Jon Fitch vs. B.J. Penn 2 is likely going to have a vacated UFC Welterweight Championship on the line. In retrospect, a draw was the best outcome for the UFC. Had either Fitch or Penn won last night, that fighter would have likely been granted a title shot for the vacated title, but against whom? Carlos Condit? Condit doesn’t have the resume or cachet, yet. Thiago Alves? He’s already lost twice to Fitch, although a Penn – Alves fight would admittedly be very appealing. Diego Sanchez? Sanchez already lost to both Fitch and Penn, and the Penn loss was one of the most convincing defeats in MMA history. But with a draw between Fitch and Penn, if GSP defeats shields and vacates the Welterweight title, their rematch is the perfect solution to crown the next Welterweight champion.

Bisping Becomes Easy Target For, Well, Everybody

Jorge Rivera has been granted a hall pass by the MMA media and fanbase, both of whom are convinced that Michael Bisping is the illegitimate (or maybe the legitimate) love-child of Saddam Hussein and Satan. Jorge Rivera, in a pathetic and desperate attempt to make his fight with Michael Bisping relevant, not to mention to attempt to make himself relevant, spent more time making bad Youtube videos insulting Bisping, his family, his heritage, and anything else he could think of instead of, oh I don’t know, working on his skills and his cardio.

Predictably, after suffering through weeks of the most random onslaught of insults ever witnessed, Bisping showed up in Sydney looking for blood. It started at the weigh ins, carried through to the fights, and culminated in the immediate aftermath of his second round TKO victory over the over-matched journeyman.

1.) At the weigh-ins, Bisping called Rivera a f*ggot motherf*cker. Cultural differences aside, where certain slurs don’t possess as much vitriol as they do elsewhere, Bisping just has to know better. Even though the UFC clearly has its sights set on running in every country, their bread is buttered by the American fanbase, and the word “f*ggot” isn’t tolerated here, period.

2.) During the fight itself, Bisping and Rivera spent plenty of yapping, refusing to touch gloves, and coming up with whatever sign language they could to express their mutual disdain for each other. And it could have kept up for 15 minutes until Bisping planted Rivera with an illegal knee mid-way through round number one.

The only person who knows whether or not that knee was intentional is Michael Bisping himself. And of course, he denied that it was intentional. Personally, my initial reaction was that it was illegal, but really it just doesn’t matter. Legal or illegal, had Rivera not continued he would have been awarded a victory. After looking back at it a few times, I honestly don’t know if there was intent to throw an illegal knee or not. Here’s what I saw. I saw Bisping shellacking the overmatched Rivera with punches while Rivera was on both knees. Bisping took a step back, waited maybe slightly less than a second, and then threw a monster knee to Rivera’s face. Now, people are quick to jump on Bisping’s ass and declare that Bisping had more than enough time to know that Rivera was on two knees, he knew it was illegal, and we should all call for Bisping to be fired. My take on it is slightly different. My take is that Bisping backed off, and based on dozens of professional fights and thousands of hours of striking, his instincts told him that Rivera, or any other opponent, should be off of his knees in that timeframe, and listening to those instincts he cocked and threw. Of course, Rivera didn’t get up in that amount of time, and the knee was completely illegal. I’m just not ready to jump his ass when not one person is willing to give the bloke the benefit of the doubt. Mob rules and mob mentality can be pretty damn ugly. Don’t believe me? Spend a day in Madison.

3.) At the end of the fight, after Bisping took out his frustrations for being forced to fight such a lowly opponent, and after he took out his personal frustrations towards Rivera’s method of hyping this fight, Bisping spit towards one of Rivera’s less-than-innocent-in-this-whole-debacle cornermen, stalked over to Rivera demanding an apology from him, and then yelled, “Go home loser,” at Rivera. I know. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. Mr. Bisping called someone who lost, gasp, wait for it, a loser. Oh the humanity.

It’s readily apparent that the close-minded MMA community has made up their collective mind on Bisping, and not even a troll like Jorge Rivera will have any impact to them. OK, fine. When he fights Belfort or Sonnen this summer, and you shell out your $55, just try not to realize how deeply you’re being played.

Pride Never Die

It tells you how thin this card was that after talking about the top three fights that I am jumping onto Mark Hunt (figuratively) next. Hunt is completely irrelevant in the big picture, but I sure as hell enjoyed the micro-view. It’s nice to see a legend, and I am using that term with the proper reverence as Hunt is a legend, get one last impactful victory. Pride fanboys haven’t had much to hang their hats on lately, and the incessant chirping that they are going to partake in will take a little of the shine off of my enjoyment of Hunt’s KO victory over a very tough Chris Tuchscherer. But regardless, I was happy to see Hunt get a UFC victory to attach to his career highlights.

Chris Lytle Is Too Macho for His Own Damn Good

Now how is that for a snappy title for this section? Anyhooooo, Chris Lytle made the macho-mistake that deferred Josh Grispi’s ascension. When Carlos Condit pulled out of his scheduled UFC 127 fight against Chris Lytle, Lytle never in a million years should have accepted a fight against Brian Ebersole. Consequences be damned; he had nothing to gain, and everything to lose. It’s not like the UFC was going to cut one of their most entertaining fighters because he didn’t want to fight a no name like Ebersole on short notice.

Had Condit made it to Australia, a win over Condit would have been the best of Lytle’s career, and would have put him no more than two wins from a title shot. A loss to Condit would not have harmed Lytle one bit, because losing to a killer like Condit is a black mark on nobody’s record. Instead, Lytle foolishly accepted a fight with the unknown Brian Ebersole. A win would have gained him nothing. Hell, a win would have harmed Lytle’s career, because he’s 36 years old, and he only has so many wars left in his body. And now that Lytle lost, his dreams of contention are over. Those dreams are now buried deeper in cement than your opinions on Michael Bisping.

[Michael Bisping art by Grant Gould (c)]

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