- UFC 127
Bisping tells 'loser' Rivera to go home after TKO win
For exclusive reaction, including Michael Bisping's analysis of his victory over Jorge Rivera, don't miss the first edition of ESPN's new Ultimate UFC Podcast on Wednesday
Michael Bisping suffered months of mocking and taunting from Jorge Rivera, he claimed revenge would be taken inside the Octagon, and at UFC 127 he delivered on his promise with a dominant TKO victory that sets him up for a middleweight title eliminator later this year.
Rivera had angered Bisping more visibly than ever previously seen in the Briton's career, after he aimed a flurry of extremely personal digs at Bisping's family and English heritage. Come fight night, Bisping pointed at the centre of the Octagon, told Rivera to meet him there, refused to touch gloves, and then destroyed El Conquistador.
As a giant sub-plot in an entertaining two-round fight that finished by TKO after a series of huge right hands from Bisping, the Briton had earlier been docked a point in the first for a brutal illegal knee to a grounded Rivera. The American looked concussed but said he could fight on, so Bisping went to work.
Using trip takedowns Bisping grounded his foe at will, pounding away at Rivera to cancel out the docked point by the end of the first round. Then, after being dropped by a big right from Rivera at the start of the second, the Wolf's Lair fighter regained his composure, clipped Rivera with a right of his own, and signalled the beginning of the end. Relentless right hands and knees left Rivera a sitting duck against the cage, eventually collapsing as the referee stepped in.
Even then the drama was not over, with Bisping telling his rival never to insult his family, before yelling 'go home, loser'.
"I want to apologise for losing my cool there," said Bisping. "His camp talked a lot of s*** and touched a few nerves, so I apologise for losing control. I respect him as an opponent, but he talks so much s***. I didn't understand it, I never said anything bad about him, but him and all his coaches got involved and they went below the belt. It upset me, but I apologise Mr White."
The main event of the night between BJ Penn and Jon Fitch ended in a majority draw after the judges rendered a 29-28 28-28 28-28 decision. Fitch completely dominated Penn in the third round, but the Hawaiian had earlier shocked the more celebrated wrestler by seeking the takedown, twice almost snapping on a rear naked choke.
Asked if Penn felt he had done enough to win the fight, the former two-time champion replied: "No. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my career if I lost the fight. The Gods gave me a draw, if Fitch wants to do it again, I'll do it again."
In the lightweight division, George Sotiropoulos' bid for a title shot was derailed after he suffered his first UFC defeat to German kickboxer Dennis Siver. Sotiropoulos had been expected to edge the fight with his world class grappling game, but he attempts were stuffed by Siver who claimed a 29-28 30-28 30-27 decision.
Fighting in front of his home crowd, Sotiropoulos was dropped twice during a first stanza that posed as a contender for a 10-8 round, with Siver connecting over and over again with huge hooks to wobble the Australian. To Sotiropoulos' credit, he recovered enough to make the final two rounds competitive, but the damage had been done.
"He was really strong and caught me with some big shots," said Sotiropoulos, who's eight-fight win streak comes to an end. "He defended the takedown well, and he landed a few times. His defence was slippery."
Shock of the night, and Fight of the Night, was delivered by Brian Ebersole, who claimed a unanimous decision victory over Chris Lytle after a battle that was more one-sided than the 30-27 29-28 29-28 scores suggested.
Ebersole opened up with some crazy Muay Thai and Capoeira techniques, eventually dropping Lytle with a huge knee against the cage midway through the second round. A choke attempt almost succeeded, but in the end Ebersole had to settle for the decision after winning the stand-up and ground exchanges with Lytle, ending his four-fight win streak.
"Overwhelmed with emotion," a victorious Ebersole said. "I thought I was going to sink in that choke but he is not somebody who loses his awareness."
Earlier in the night, Bisping's countryman and former student on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter Ross Pearson came away with a unanimous decision victory over Spencer Fisher. Pearson was making his comeback from knee surgery following a knockout loss to Cole Miller. Both men displayed good stand-up as Fisher worked snappy right hooks and accurate straight lefts, but Fisher landing the heavier blows, particularly when working in the tight exchanges. The judges eventually rendered a 30-27 29-28 29-28 decision for the Briton.