Rundown of UFC 127 ‘Penn vs. Fitch’ post-fight news, notes and quotes…
— 18,186 attendees filed into the Acer Arena last night for a $3.5 million live gate, $1 million more than last year’s UFC 110 live gate. Australia is chock full of UFC fans and the UFC’s Marshall Zelasnik says they would absolutely do a stadium show in Melbourne if Victoria ever legalizes MMA.
“There’s an Arena here in Australia in Melbourne, the Etihad, which has a roof. It’s about 55,000 (seats). I have no doubt that if we can figure out the issue with Victoria that that would be a place for an event that I think would sell-out just as quickly as Toronto.”
— Brian Ebersole and Chris Lytle earned an extra $75,000 for putting on a spectacular fight during last night’s pay-per-view telecast. UFC brass thought Kyle Noke’s rear-naked choke victory against Chris Camozzi was the standout submission of the night and Mark Hunt rebounded from a six-fight losing streak with a big knockout that earned him a $75k KO bonus.
— Neither BJ Penn or Jon Fitch were satisfied with their performances last and both were disappointed that the fight ended in a draw. Many people have suggested they rematch for the welterweight title if GSP moves to middleweight this summer and vacates his title. Fitch thought it was a “great idea,” but wasn’t certain that he deserved it.
“I don’t know right now [if I deserve a title shot]. I’m awfully disappointed with my performance. I don’t know. I expect more [from myself]. I should have put on a better show and performed better tonight to make that a question no one had to ask. So I don’t know. I have to leave it up to the bosses and see what they want to do with me…. The diet worked out great. It had nothing to do with my performance. Actually, I didn’t even get tired the whole fight. There was just something holding me back. I don’t know. I should have turned it on a lot sooner.”
“I can understand where Jon’s coming from, but I think I need one more win over Jon before I get a shot at a title,” Penn stated.
While a lot has to happen before a Penn-Fitch title rematch could be set up, the big question at the moment is, what’s going on inside BJ Penn’s head? He was noticeably somber following the fight, presumably over what happened in the third round. As he did following his second loss to Frankie Edgar, thoughts of retirement ran through his head following the fight.
“I don’t know what was really running through my head,” the two-division former champ said at the post-event press conference. “As soon as the fight was done, a million different things were running through my head. A couple people asked me that. Did I say before the fight this was my last fight? I don’t know. I’m still just up in the air and still kind of disappointed I gave away the third round like that.”
Penn echoed those thoughts to Ariel Helwani in the post-fight interview.
“Trash talking is part of game,” he said. “You’ve got to take it on the chin sometimes, which I could’ve done a little bit better. I did let it get to me. I apologize for that. I’m an emotional guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and everything that comes out of my mouth, I mean from my heart. None of it’s an act, I am who I am. He got on my nerves, he upset me, and embarrassed me. He was mocking me all over the world on the internet, but I should’ve been a bigger man and taken it on the chin a little better.”
The apology likely fell on deaf ears in Rivera’s camp though. They were outraged following the fight that included a blatent illegal knee to Rivera’s noggin, which Bisping says “certainly wasn’t on purpose.” Apparently, as soon as the fight ended, Bisping walked over to Rivera’s corner and spit in their direction. Bisping denies he directed it at anyone in particular but it did hit one of Rivera’s cornerman. Bisping then said something along the lines of “You made it personal, motherf—–, talking about my family… Loser, go home.” The incident enraged Rivera’s camp to the point that his manager issued a statement to MMA Fighting calling for the commission or the UFC to fine and suspend Bisping.
“Bisping’s conduct after he was awarded the TKO is not acceptable,” Rivera’s manager Lex McMahon told MMA Fighting in an email. “Taunting and spitting at and on Jorge’s coach Matt Phinney is the deplorable conduct of a schoolyard bully. And like all bullies, Mr. Bisping needs to be punished. In this instance, it would be appropriate if Bisping is fined and suspended by the commission and/or the UFC.”
Dana White didn’t attend the post-fight press conference to give his opinion on the incident but some sort of punishment does seem appropriate in this instance. For what it’s worth, Bisping apologized for spitting in their direction. He does however think Rivera’s camp is “classless” for suggesting he should be suspended and Rivera needs to “accept he got beat and get over it.”
Update: MMA Fighting has spoken with Jorge Rivera. To say he’s pissed off would be an understatement.
“That knee was deliberate, and I’ll tell you exactly how I know this. I went to sweep him, and first of all, I want to say that he was at the press conference talking about how he’s the better fighter, he’s got better jiu-jitsu, better wrestling, but he takes me down, fine. I go to sweep him and he holds on to the fence. He holds on to the fence the whole time. …And then, within 30 or 40 seconds of doing that, he knees me [illegally] in the head. I’m on all fours, he winds up and knees me in the head. Then he puts his hands up, walks over to my corner and says, ‘He’s the p-ssy.’ Now if that wasn’t deliberate, I don’t know what the f-ck is.”
“You’ve seen all the videos,” said Rivera. “Did I ever mention one thing about this man’s family in any way shape or form? We’re all fairly educated, right? Show me where I did that. Just show me where I did that, and then he’ll get his apology. But I’m not a classless piece of sh-t like he is, so I would never f-cking do that.”
“I don’t regret a thing I did,” said Rivera. “[Bisping] showed his true colors last night. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
— Aussie Kyle Noke was understandably thrilled following the performance that earned him a $75k sub bonus.
“It feels good,” Noke said at the evening’s post-event press conference. “It’s a dream of mine to fight in the UFC. To have the opportunity to fight at home, in Australia for the UFC, I’m happy. I’m excited.”
— Following his loss to Sean McCorkle most expected the UFC to part ways with K-1/PRIDE veteran Mark Hunt. After all, he was on a six-fight losing streak and the UFC only gave him a shot in the first place because they were contractually obligated to as a result of the PRIDE acquisition. UFC officials gave Hunt another chance though, and he made the best of it, knocking out Brock Lesnar’s training partner, Chris Tuchscherer. It was Hunt’s first win in nearly five years, and Hunt was obviously relieved to get it.
“I haven’t won a fight in so long,” Hunt admitted. “It was great to win.
“It’s been a long time between drinks for me – a long time.”
For those who missed the fight, Hunt dropped Tuchscherer with an uppercut in the second round and turned around and walked away before the ref jumped in to stop it. It was a bold decision that could have backfired on him, but when Ariel Helwani asked how he knew it was over, Hunt replied “I just felt it.” What a badass.
Image via Dan Herbertson for MMA Fighting