The days of competitive respect are close to gone. The old school martial arts mentality to respect your opponent seems to be a thing of the past. To replace these things, we now have bravado, arrogance, and an almost Hitler-like sense of superiority. It could be argued that this is the sad passing of an age.
But, damn, does it make an exciting build up to a fight.
Smack talk has become an integral part of MMA, and the fight game as a whole. We have pre fight trash talk, online bashing, blogging battery, the stylings of Chael Sonnen, and Twitter.
But now, apparently, we have a new outlet for pre fight debauchery: Broadway.
For those of you who don't know, Jorge Rivera has put forth a number of online videos that have demeaned Micheal Bisping in a way that would have Brock Lesnar laughing like it was "Shark Week" at Sea World.
While Jorge himself is a terrible actor, the guy who plays Micheal "Pillowfists" Bisping is great. Check'em out:
...and of course:
Bisping, in response to these incendiary videos, has professed that Jorge is just trying to get inside his head. Furthermore, everyone tries to get in his head, but of course it never works. The "Count" is descended from royalty, and can't be bothered by these peasants .
With all of that being said, however, Bisping looked slightly less than calm at today's weigh- in. He wasted no time getting in Rivera's face. Both combatants, yelling and screaming, were forcibly separated by Dana and staff. Surprisingly, after all the smack talk, Rivera left the stage in an almost unseemly haste.
Now, for the breakdown:
-38 years old
-MMA record: 19-7; 13 KO's, 2 Sub
-73.5 inch reach
-Notable wins: Travis Lutter, Nate Quarry, Kendall Grove, David Loiseau
-31 years old
-MMA Record: 20-3; 12 KO's, 4 Sub
-75 inch reach
-Notable wins: Yoshihiro Akiyama, Dan Miller, Dennis Kang, Chris Leben
Bisping's Game Plan:
Micheal is the bigger, faster, and more technical of the two fighters. He needs to maintain his distance, circle away from Jorge's power hand (read, the opposite of what he did against Hendo), and fire off crisp, clean, combinations. Utilizing his superior footwork, he needs to work the Octagon, making Jorge pay everytime he tries to close the distance. Loose hips and constant angles should allow him to avoid the heavy hands of Rivera. Should it come to a clinch, Bisping needs to pummel under to secure the plum, then throw the barrage of knees that we have seen before. Call him "Pillow Fists" all you want; enough clean shots to the face will take anyone down.
Rivera's Game Plan:
Rivera has the superior punching power of the two, and he needs to make this a down and dirty brawl. He needs to stay aggressive and press forward, cutting off the Octagon as he does. Ideally, he wants to get the fight against the cage, where Bisping's technique will be neutralized, and Jorge can rain heavy leather. Should the fight go to the ground, he needs to maintain a dominant top position. Bisping is weaker off of his back, and Rivera has some nasty ground and pound.
I honestly can't see this fight going the distance. The animosity that these two have for each other leads me to believe that there will be very little of the feeling out process. This is a massive step up in competition for Rivera, and Bisping is just pissed off. Not to mention, UFC 127 takes place in Australia, which is very England friendly.
On paper, Bisping has all the stats. He is bigger, faster, younger, and more technical. He has also faced a higher level caliber of opponent. He is currently a (-500) to (+300) favorite.
But I'm not buying it. Call it a hunch. Call it the look in Jorge's eyes, or the last stand of an old tiger. Jorge has nothing to lose in this fight, and everything to gain. At 38 years old, the clock is ticking; Not everyone can be Randy Couture (ask Chuck Liddell.) I will probably be wrong, but I will go out on a limb and pick the Conquistador to triumph over the Count.