Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bisping camp blames Rivera's 'Phinney' for explosion in the Octagon

While the MMA world waits for the UFC to come to a decision on Michael Bisping's behavior, the Brit's manager Anthony McGann wanted to tell their side of the story. According to McGann, the week of the fight, there were more shenanigans from Matt Phinney of Camp Rivera and his tomfoolery continued on the night of the fight.

“I would like to give our take on what happened in Australia. Let me begin first by saying that in five years of competing in the UFC at every level, we have never encountered a more unprofessional outfit as Jorge Rivera’s camp," McGann told MMAWeekly. "All the teams who rub shoulders regularly at all the events are always polite, respectful and courteous to each other. Regardless of any of the fighters smack talk or actions. all the camps will attest to this. Along comes this Phinney guy out of the blue, he is Rivera’s boxing coach and the guy who features heavily in the YouTube videos making fun of Mike Bisping."

It was one thing to goad Bisping and Co. on video, but according to McGann, the trash talk continued at the UFC hotel in Sydney.

"The real problems begin in the hotel in Australia. As always fighters are staying in close proximity in the hotel for over a week and during the day the camps pass each other. Normally the fighters will be tense with their opponent but the teams always remain neutral and polite. Rivera’s crew were mocking mike and laughing at him and Jorge even gave an interview to Fanhouse (4:45 mark) saying if Mike was a man he would confront him in the hotel."

McGann says much of the effort was driven by the goal of selling t-shirts. 

"This situation was the reason for the emotional weigh-ins and throughout the catalyst was Phinney. In fact Rivera had two more coaches who never participated in any of this, they did act professional. It was always Rivera and Phinney. If you look at all the Ranger-Up YouTube stuff it seems Phinney is the driving force behind the company and it was him even up to the point on the scale who was constantly goading Mike. I believe he should have concentrated more on real fight preparation like we did than silly childish games and behavior."

McGann thinks Bisping's illegal knee was a mistake that happens sometimes in the course of the fight.

He says Phinney got Bisping's blood boiling further by chiding him as Rivera was trying to recover.

"This fight was not your normal fight, the hype was immense and I am sure the fans felt this. The illegal knee was what it was, Mike was over excited and timed it wrong. He is not known for illegal blows although this does happen in the sport from time to time. Whilst Rivera was recovering, Phinney was shouting obscenities to Mike if you look you can see Mike give him the finger in reply. He was also hurling abuse at our corner men, once again this behaviour is unheard of in the UFC. Anyway YouTube videos and goading Mike did him no good and Mike dispatched him with ease.”

At the end of the fight Bisping was still hearing it from Phinney.  

"Mike was still emotional and asked Rivera for an apology, still Phinney was shouting abuse and Mike replied to him, Mike did spit but on the floor in his direction not on him. Phinney was hurling abuse at Mike and our corner men the whole time. His behaviour at the cage was disgusting and unbefitting of the UFC and I won’t go into any more detail as Phinney doesn’t deserve any notoriety. He does not reflect in anyway the normal conduct of us and the rest of the teams. If that’s how he has behaved at other events then he needs to go back to them. Although I believe that after this we won’t be hearing much of Mr. Phinney anymore."

The UFC has an interesting situation here. Bisping is a driving force behind the promotion's efforts to build its brand in the U.K. and internationally. So cutting him, seems unlikely.

In the video below, Yahoo! Sports' lead MMA writer Kevin Iole says firing Bisping is absolutely a possibility. He followed that up on Twitter by saying he think it's 50-50.

That said, the UFC has two or three ready-made fights sitting there for Bisping with middleweights Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquardt all calling him out.

What should the UFC do?


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