When it comes to UFC PPV co-main events some are more of a hit than others and most would claim that the fight tomorrow night between Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera doesn’t really rank. Bisping’s peerless popularity (at least in his native UK) has historically helped him into main event and co-main event slots against opponents that maybe weren’t all that worthy and this is another one of those cases.
In this instance, however, the UFC was lucky enough to have Jorge Rivera and his litany of taunting, mean spirited Youtube videos to help stir the pot and sell the product. While they contain nothing that would be considered high comedy Rivera’s short films, which attack everything from Bisping’s lack of knockout power to his controversial decision victory over Matt Hamill, have clearly gotten under the (thin?) skin of The Count as Wednesday’s media outing can attest. To his credit, Bisping has fired back though in the process proved himself to be less than talented in that art form. He whined about Rivera not respecting him enough and then went on to call him a “relic.” So, no it hasn’t been anywhere near as awesome as the lead up to Silva vs. Sonnen but considering the overly PC environment in which we live this will have to do as the next best thing.
To hear it from the odds makers this is the most lopsided fight on the card and we could probably hypothesize that it was put together in the name of potentially moving Bisping into a position to challenge the winner of the GSP/Anderson Silva superfight. Rivera, to be fair, probably doesn’t deserve the huge underdog status that he’s now stuck with. He is riding a three fight win streak which was last attended to in March of last year when he KO’d Nate Quarry. Then came the unfortunate UFC 122 incident where Rivera was going to fight Alessio Sakara until Sakara pulled out the morning of due to illness which means that as of now he’s entering Saturday with a year’s worth of ring rust on a soon to be 39 year old body. Still, ring rust or no ring rust Rivera brings very real knockout power into the cage and he’ll be looking to hammer Bisping’s occasionally suspect chin with it.
It will be most interesting to see how Rivera handles the step up in competition as that aforementioned win streak was comprised of Quarry, Rob Kimmons, and Nissen Osterneck, and it will be the first time he’s faced a genuine UFC star since Rich Franklin at UFC 50. One would hope that a professional the caliber of Michael Bisping would be able to overlook some light ribbing and focus on the matter at hand but all outward appearances are to the contrary. His fan base gives him more leeway than other fighters get and a 20-3 record is most impressive but those losses have all come in the recent past and the UFC will not be able to present him as a legitimate title contender if he stumbles tomorrow night.
Tags: anderson silva, Georges St. Pierre, Jorge Rivera, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera, Mixed Martial Arts, Rich Franklin, UFC 127