In the wake of spitting on or at Jorge Rivera's corner after their UFC 127 fight, it appears UFC President Dana White is none too pleased. Whether by personal ethical compass or desire to hold up appearances, he's decided to discipline Michael Bisping for his utterly repugnant actions. Mike Chiappetta has the story:
UFC middleweight contender Michael Bisping will face disciplinary action for his behavior following his UFC 127 win, UFC president Dana White told MMA Fighting.
Rivera's boxing coach Matt Phinney was hit, according to a statement from their camp. Bisping denied spitting at them, saying, "I was spitting on the floor to let him know what I thought of him."
White said he has yet to make a decision on whether Bisping will be fined and/or suspended for his actions, but confirmed that he will be subject to some punishment.
I don't expect the punishment to be stiff, nor should it. This is not Renato Sobral ignoring a desperate referee and an opponent's surrender to exact revenge. This is just boorish, grotesque behavior.
And really, White has to do something. Part of his job is to manage relationships. To allow Rivera's corner to be spat on or at without so much as saying a word or acting on their behalf would demonstrate he is either unconcerned or unwilling to exact control or show compassion. That's not a responsibility codified in any athletic commission's rule set, but it's hugely important for White and the UFC to be successful long term. Ignoring Bisping's actions would set a horrible precedent for fostering ties to fighters, their camps or managers and even the fans.
Moreover, that's not Michael Bisping's cage. That's the UFC's cage being managed by the relevant athletic commission. It's bad precedent to allow Bisping to do what he did for reasons aforementioned. It's also bad precedent because it gives fighters a sense of control over Zuffa real estate and in one fell swoop, redefines permissible post-fight behavior.
It's true all of this serves the larger interest of making sure people pay to watch Bisping fight next time. The animosity is real and that translates into dollar signs. But that's not a process White nor anyone else should have an active hand in massaging or developing. That process should play out organically. Appearances and standards - gasp - actually matter. There is something to the idea that promoting asinine or boorish behavior hits a tipping point where credibility is then compromised. To be a nihilist and suggest otherwise is to be overcommitment to the vision of fight promotion.
On either pragmatic or ethical grounds, Michael Bisping should face punitive action. Good on Dana White for doing so.