Whatever your thoughts on what he's done before, on Saturday night, Bisping deserved it. He deserved boos in victory. He deserved boos for his illegal knee strike that could have cost him the fight, and he deserved boos for his actions just after the fight ended, spitting at Jorge Rivera's cornermen.
Winner in the cage, loser by behavior.
MMA is not always a gentlemen's game. That's why we don't actually call it a game at all. It's a fight. Sometimes, the winner is carried off on the shoulders of his exuberant teammates and the loser is carried off on a stretcher. That's how we play. It's not a place for the weak. But there is still a place for civility, and Bisping crossed those lines at UFC 127 against Rivera.
The first moment came midway through the first round. Bisping was winning the early going. His hands were faster, he'd scored a couple takedowns, and he was, as most of us suspected, simply more well-rounded. But after a takedown, Rivera was working his way back to his feet when Bisping measured him and blasted him with an illegal knee to the face. At the time, Rivera was clearly down, both his hands and knees on the mat.
The intentional foul cost Bisping a point, but it could have cost him the match. If Rivera could not have continued, the match could have easily been awarded to him via disqualification. Rivera looked in no shape to continue, and from across the cage, Bisping urged him to continue, practically taunting him, saying "Get up!" The Brit also used the break in the action to give a middle finger to Rivera's corner, before imploring the fans to raise the noise level.
"The knee was certainly not on purpose," Bisping said later. "You get excited in the heat of the fight. He was getting up off the ground. I had him in a Thai clinch and I kneed him in the head. I pulled the trigger too early."
Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt on that, things got worse.
First Rivera had to get up and fight on, essentially doing Bisping a favor when he probably could have taken a DQ victory. Rivera spent the whole timeout with his head hanging low, eyes on the floor, but after a two-minute, eight-second break, he was asked his opinion, and he said he could fight on.
The rest of the fight played out similar to the first part. Bisping was simply better. Of that, there is no dispute. Apart from a big Rivera right hand that found its mark, Bisping dominated. In the second, he finished after a flurry that knocked Rivera down. Right after the referee waved off the fight, Bisping walked to Rivera's corner, pointed at them and spit at his boxing coach Matt Phinney and jiu-jitsu coach Tim Burrill.
Even the usually staid play-by-play man Mike Goldberg couldn't let it go unmentioned.
"Real classy," Goldberg said.
Bisping apologized soon after.
"Trash talking is part of game," he said. "You've got to take it on the chin sometimes, which I could've done a little bit better. I did let it get to me. I apologize for that. I'm an emotional guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and everything that comes out of my mouth, I mean from my heart. None of it's an act, I am who I am. He got on my nerves, he upset me, and embarrassed me. He was mocking me all over the world on the internet, but I should've been a bigger man and taken it on the chin a little better."
Bisping's anger stemmed from a series of web videos Rivera made poking fun at him. After the fight, just moments after Rivera got up from the mat, Bisping could be heard telling Rivera to apologize to him.
"You made it personal, motherf-----, talking about my family," Bisping said.
"I never did that," Rivera said as the referee stepped between them before things escalated.
Before the fight, Bisping told MMA Fighting that Rivera was "selling his soul" for the sake of a few Youtube hits, and that his conduct was unbecoming.
"I'm trying to rise above it all, trying to be a professional athlete, get on with my training and leave him to the nonsense," Bisping said then.
But it was not a weekend to remember for Bisping on the professionalism front. On Friday, he used a homophobic slur at Rivera, and on Saturday, Bisping escalated the "nonsense" he was trying to avoid with an illegal knee, middle finger and spitting incident.
Said Rivera's people at Alchemist Management: "For all of Bisping's big talk of being more of a professional than Jorge, he still used a homophobic slur during the weigh ins and then spit on Rivera's coaches when the fight was over. How can you claim to be more of a professional after that?"