Michael Bisping will never say he’s always right when calling fights in the UFC, but he’s also more than confident that he knows what he’s talking about.
This past weekend at UFC 271, the former middleweight champion replaced Joe Rogan as part of the broadcast team calling the card capped off by Israel Adesanya defeating Robert Whittaker by unanimous decision. Afterwards, Bisping received a ton of criticism online for what was being perceived as biased commentary towards Adesanya while perhaps discounting what Whittaker was doing well in the fight.
“Saturday night after the commentary, there was a slew of abuse, shall we say, but I didn’t take it too to heart,” Bisping said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I wasn’t going to go and kill myself or jump off a bridge as many people were telling me to do.
“But maybe I could have worded it differently in hindsight. I haven’t had a chance to watch it back. I only got back yesterday and then I’ve had work things on and obviously I’ve got a family as well. I can’t be like ‘guys, I know I haven’t seen you in a few days but I’m just going to go watch myself for half an hour.’ I haven’t had a chance yet.”
While this isn’t the first time Bisping has dealt with online hecklers taking him to task over something he said during a broadcast, the UFC Hall of Famer definitely heard the noise after his call this past weekend.
That said, Bisping has a vivid memory regarding both the fight itself and his commentary, which is why he stands by the way he called the action in the main event.
“I do stand by a lot of what I said,” Bisping stated. “I thought the fight was very close. I thought Robert Whittaker was just a smidge behind most of the rounds. My point that I was making, I wasn’t being critical of Robert Whittaker but the reality is those rounds that he lost, they were so close but they were still going to go down as losses. He didn’t put all his hard work in to come to Houston to lose. So if he wants to win this fight, my advice is start throwing the right hand more, do this , do that.
“Izzy, for my opinion, was doing enough to win and he was going to win and it comes out I was correct. The judges saw it pretty much the way I saw it. So I guess I’m validated. But fortunately, it wasn’t the same judge that judged the Roxanne Modafferi fight.”
When the fight was over, Whittaker felt like he had done enough to earn the victory, although he still paid homage to Adesanya on a job well done.
The loss likely puts an immediate end to any chance Whittaker will have to face Adesanya again considering he’s now fallen to him twice, which likely exacerbates his frustration over the decision.
“I know Robert felt strongly that he won the fight at the end of it,” Bisping said. “He clearly stated that. I think that’s a natural response for most fighters. Most fighters will feel like that, certainly when it was so close and he did have success towards the end of the round. He was landing jabs and things like that but if you look at the stats, which I have done, Izzy was ahead on every round.
“Of course there was talk about the takedowns but in the new unified rules of mixed martial arts, in a very close fight, a takedown unless you use it to pass guard, advance position, do damage or look for submissions, that it’s just classified as a change of position. It doesn’t affect the scorecard.”
As far as taking the criticism to heart, Bisping has been here before because he was one of the most magnetic personalities throughout his entire fighting career and he faced loads of naysayers after almost every performance in his career.
Words matter obviously and Bisping appreciates true constructive criticism but he’s also confident that he’s put in the work to know how to call a fight as well.
“I’m not some arrogant assh*le that just thinks I’m the be all and end all, my opinion is the only one that matters so therefore I disregard everything,” Bisping said. “But I am confident in what I say as well. I know this sport inside and out. I’ve dedicated my life to martial arts. I am so fully entrenched in the world of UFC. It’s my life. That’s all I do. For 20 years, I was a professional fighter or a fighter and now I commentate. When I’m not commentating, I’m doing weigh-in shows, post-fight shows, all the rest of it. You name it. My own YouTube channel. A podcast surrounding MMA. I know the sport. So I’m very confident in my opinion.
“That said, it doesn’t mean I can’t get it wrong sometimes. I do look at criticism and maybe some of it’s valid, maybe some of it’s not. Maybe some of it’s just Robert Whittaker fanboys. Maybe it’s Joe Rogan fanboys that didn’t like the fact that I was stepping in. Who knows.”
Of course, Bisping served as part of the commentary team thanks to Rogan’s absence, which was first explained as a “scheduling conflict” that was later debunked by UFC president Dana White who called that narrative “bullsh*t.”
Whatever the reason, Bisping was proud to fill in for Rogan even if only for one night because he holds the longtime UFC color commentator in high regard, especially when it comes to his ability to call the fights.
“Listen, it’s kind of crazy what Joe Rogan’s going through but he had a lot of support Saturday night,” Bisping said. “There were chants of Joe Rogan throughout the octagon. Listen, I don’t want to step in and make my pay-per-view debut because someone else is going through some controversy. It’s not the ideal scenario but it also, it was an honor to fill in for Joe Rogan, to be the guy that the UFC called so I’m very grateful for that opportunity.
“Who knows maybe that’s why everyone hates me this morning. Normally, I’ve turned it around. Normally I get a lot of credit but not after the weekend, It’s like 2007 all over again.”
All jokes aside, Bisping has seen Rogan face the same kind of criticism after many of his calls in the UFC, and at the end of the day, it’s all just part of the job.
“I want to learn. I want to get better,” Bisping said. “It would be arrogant not to but you’re absolutely right. I see it all the time, people are always talking sh*t about Joe Rogan. I’m like what are you talking about? No. 1, he is the godfather of the UFC or MMA commentary. He really is. He’s the guy that almost essentially started the job if you will. He’s been doing it forever. The big fights don’t feel like the big fights without Joe Rogan. You know you’re on a pay-per-view, you know it’s a special night when Joe is on the microphone.
“I think his insights are fantastic. He knows what he’s talking about. I think he has a way with words that he’s absolutely fascinating with the way he strings together and structures his sentences. That’s why he’s got the biggest podcast in the world. The man’s a good talker. He knows what he’s doing. He knows the sport and I find some of his takes absolutely fascinating. It just wouldn’t be the same without Joe Rogan. It was always hard shoes for me to fill.”