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Michael Bisping’s on-air beef with Colby Covington was untimely (and unnecessary)

FOX Sports 1

It’s exceedingly easy to hate on Colby Covington, especially after he vowed to take his newly won interim belt to the White House for Donald Trump to run a cold finger over. But it’s quite another to dress him down on a post-fight show right after he wins that belt, which Michael Bisping did late on Saturday night. If you expect high-road professionalism from Bisping in his role as an analyst, five words spring immediately to mind.

Good luck with that, booday.

In fact, the whole segment — which lasted five minutes and aired live on Fox Sports 1 after UFC 225 — took on the complexion of an SNL skit, with Covington on one half of the split screen sporting shades, his belt and his trademark smug smile, and Bisping on the other, taking umbrage at how Covington called the panel out for doubting his chances against Rafael dos Anjos. It was uncomfortable, weird, comical, even a little mortifying — and sometimes all of those things at once (like when poor Michelle Waterson forgot her question).

It was also untimely. Check it out for yourself.

Perhaps it’s a case of old habits dying hard, but Bisping was in the mood to upstage the man who should have been the star of the moment, and it never occurred to him to conduct himself otherwise.

As you might expect, Covington came in hot by bringing up Bisping’s boxing coach Jason Parillo, who just so happens to be dos Anjos’ coach as well. It didn’t take long from there for Bisping to introduce the words “prick” and “idiot” into the conversation, words that — under any other circumstance — might match up to Covington very well. But in a setting like that? During Covington’s victory lap across the airwaves after winning the biggest fight of his career? At the exact moment when he’s supposed to be directing his grating shtick towards the actual welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, who happens to be the molten center of the conversation?

How did it become about Bisping?

That felt a little counterintuitive, and a lot unnecessary. In a moment like that nobody cares about Bisping playing heel limbo with some brash alternative version of himself. A cocky new interim champion should be allowed to fire grapeshot at his haters because, after winning a title on a major pay-per-view, the floor is his. It’s his time to soak in his accomplishment and make outlandish claims and say whatever stupid thing he wants. And isn’t the idea of a UFC post-fight show to not only allow him to do those things, but to maybe even toss a little gasoline on the fire?

Instead Bisping questioned Covington’s legitimacy as a champion.

“You came at me hard, now I’m going to come at your hard,” he said the next time it came around to him to ask a question. “Do you actually consider yourself the welterweight champion of the world? — because I’m pretty sure that Tyron Woodley actually lays claim to that.”

Here Covington stuck his tongue out.

“Nah, he doesn’t lay claim to nothing man, this is my belt,” he said. “I’m the undisputed champ. Tyron Woodley, he’s been hiding man. We were supposed to fight, Bispin…”

(Covington pronounces Bisping’s name as Bispin).

“…whether you want to say it, look at the facts — the UFC offered him the fight last December. He’s hiding, he’s been ducking everybody in the division. He doesn’t want to fight. I’m here to make the division great again. And you know what I’m going to do to make the division great again? I’m going to the White House and I’m putting this on Donald Trump’s desk.”

“Do you have the invite to go to the White House, or is that another figment of the imagination, like being the champ?” Bisping wondered.

That’s when Covington, the game’s self-proclaimed supervillain, went ahead and went there.

“Ah, the only figment of my imagination is that you must not be seeing right out of that one eye.”

That’s cold, what? Come on! Below the belt.

See, normally these types of exchanges are just good excruciating fun between extreme mofos who compete in an extreme sport and long ago stopped giving a damn about the delicacies of the PC world. We see it all the time in the fight game; Bisping is a master-class sniper when it comes to smack talk, and Covington is a poor man’s Andy Kaufman in Reebok gear. Things are bound to become combustible whenever they are in the same room (or connected via satellite from 2000 miles away).

It’s just the way it is.

But sometimes you’d like to see a little restraint. Bisping sharing a coach with RDA is bound to give him leanings, and everybody knows that Woodley is a fellow analyst of his on the FOX set. Clearly Bisping wanted dos Anjos to win, which is fine. He’s a human being. There will be biases and loyalties, just like when Dominick Cruz argued with Daniel Cormier about the illegal knee his teammate Jeremy Stephens landed (or didn’t) against Josh Emmett. The problem is that biases on that platform — especially when a fighter is celebrating a title — have a way of looking obvious. And little things end up forgotten.

Such as it’s not Bisping’s place to steal the moment from Covington, nor to call him a charlatan on the night of his triumph. It’s understandable that a fighter will fidget in a suit, but analysts needn’t make things so personal.

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