And it’s recent title challenger Vitor Belfort.
“I need to fight soon,” Belfort (19-9 MMA, 8-5 UFC) wrote. “I want to get busy.”
After a heated buildup (due largely to a series of videos in which Rivera spoofed Bisping) ahead of their pay-per-view bout at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia, Bisping (21-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) stopped Rivera (19-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) with a second-round TKO. The win was a dubious one, though; Bisping connected on an illegal to the head in the first round, and Rivera never was the same afterward.
After the fight, cameras caught Bisping yelling at Rivera’s corner men – and then spitting at them. The irritated fighter then went after Rivera.
“Never talk about my family,” Bisping yelled as officials separated the fighters. “Go home, loser.”
Bisping ultimately apologized in his post-fight interview and said he’s “a sensitive guy” who lost “my nerve a little bit there.”
However, officials from Rivera’s management team at Alchemist MMA immediately released a statement in which they condemned Bisping’s actions, allege the illegal knee was intentional, and campaign for a fine and suspension due to his “spitting and taunting” at coach Matt Phinney.
It’s “conduct of a schoolyard bully,” the statement reads. “Like all bullies, Mr. Bisping needs to be punished. In this instance it would be appropriate if Bisping is fined and suspended by the athletic commission and/or the UFC.”
In the aftermath of the show, UFC officials have hinted at no pending punishment. Additionally, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) couldn’t reach UFC president Dana White for comment because of his travel back to the U.S.
Still, with the heavily publicized fight and fallout generating massive interest in Bisping, Belfort is looking to capitalize.
The Brazilian failed to take the middleweight title from champ Anderson Silva earlier this month at UFC 126, and a win over Bisping would keep Belfort’s title hopes alive. Additionally, a fight against someone of Belfort’s stature could help Bisping silence critics who say his contender status is the result of favorable matchmaking and a lack of top-10 opponents.
If booked, there are a host of suitable host sites (though May’s UFC 130 main card already is full). Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC’s managing director of international development, said the UFC is likely to return to the U.K. in June, which could serve as a homecoming for Bisping. A trip to Belfort’s home country of Brazil also is slated for August in Rio De Janeiro.