Time to cut Michael Bisping some slack after Jorge Rivera’s smack talk

By Gareth A Davies

Sydney and UFC 127 might be the time for Bisping bashing from American fans to abate somewhat. But then again, fight sports need heroes and ‘villains’. With Bisping, he appears to fall into the latter category, although the British mixed martial artist told me recently that he rarely, if ever, had anything rude said to his face by fans of the sport. Quite the contrary.

He has had the burden, in a sense, of carrying the UK torch in the UFC, an organisation utterly barren of a British belt holder in its history.

Jorge Rivera, Bisping’s middleweight opponent a week on Sunday in the Australian city where the UFC has created its newest burgeoning home, has been trading on Bisping’s infamy to build noise around the fight – but he might have just gone a step too far.

Bisping is privately fuming that Rivera has been conducting a mocking campaign, being rude about his wife and children. “Completely disrespected,” are the words directly from Bisping. Prior to the smack talk, there were those in Bisping’s camp concerned that he was not taking the threat of Rivera strongly enough. The plan may backfire on Rivera. Bisping’s anger is genuine and I understand after initially wanting to be kept apart from the American in build-up week, he got over the hump – so to speak – and his team are delighted with the way he has channelled his ire in training. I’m told by camp insiders that Bisping is “completely focused”.

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