As soon as Michael Bisping was announced as the late replacement for Chris Weidman to face Luke Rockhold, you knew there was going to be some smack talk. It happened the first time through when they fought at UFC Fight Night 55 in Sydney, Australia in 2014, when Rockhold scored a second-round submission victory over England’s own.
And it happened again on Thursday during the UFC 199 media conference call to set the table for the rematch.
After a full decade in the UFC, Bisping is getting his title shot, if even under extenuating circumstances. Meanwhile Rockhold, who spent the first six weeks of his camp training for his rematch with Weidman, suddenly has to switch gears and take out a guy he already beat.
Asked if that presented any kind of motivational problem for their June 4 fight in Inglewood, California, the middleweight champion said it didn’t.
He also said this was a chance to end the 37-year old Bisping’s career.
"Any time you put in a full training camp like this, I want to have an end result," Rockhold said. "I want to keep myself competing and obviously making dollars. Going out there and getting to shut Mike’s mouth, and getting to shut all these guy’s mouths, all these guys have made excuses — Mike, Chris Weidman, Jacare [Souza]. Guess what, I beat them all. And I’m going to beat them all again, one at a time they’re all going to get theirs.
"Mike, he’s a tough dude, he took this fight, but this will not be his fairy tale. This will be his swansong. This will be the end of him. I am going to go out there and dominate this guy like he’s never been before."
The back and forth between the two was constant, and when Bisping tried to get in a word edgewise, Rockhold paid him some backhanded props.
"You earned this, I’ll give you that," he said, addressing Rockhold directly. "You earned this fight. You beat a champion. You beat a champion in Anderson Silva and you would have probably won that fight handily if you didn’t complain about your mouthpiece and get clipped. But, you will not be a champion. I will humiliate you next week. It’s going to be so one-sided."
That’s when Bisping jumped in, taking offense at the word "humiliate."
"Look I’ve got nothing against you, Luke, personally, we’re both competitors," Bisping said. "We’re in the same weight class. Yeah, you hold a victory over me, and I want to rectify that. I wish you all the best. Listen, we’ve got mutual friends, I’m sure you’re a great guy.
"But for me, I have to win this belt. I have to beat you to get a chance at redemption. You’re very, very confident that you’re going to humiliate me, listen — do not underestimate me, my friend, okay? Alright, you did well, you beat me once, try and pull it off twice. It has never happened before, and it will never happen. Believe you me, if you saw the way I was sparring right now you wouldn’t be so sure about it."
The 31-year old Rockhold, who is 15-2 and has won five straight, laughed it off.
"I know exactly who you are," he said. "I know exactly who all these guys are. I’m not underestimating you, I know exactly who you are. And I know exactly what I’m going to do. That’s the difference between me and you and the rest of these guys. I know what I’m going to do, and the rest of you guys think you know what you’re going to do."
After Rockhold said he wouldn’t be needing kicks or jiu-jitsu to beat Bisping this time through, he made a simple declaration.
"Mike it’s going to be a bad night for you my friend," Rockhold said.
"Okay, alright, cool," Bisping replied. "We’ll see about that when you’re on the floor and you’re looking up at the stars and thinking, sh*t, I just lost my belt to a guy that came in on two week’s notice, and took your belt that you worked so hard for."
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