More often than not, ‘heat’ in combat sports is manufactured. ‘These two guys really don’t like each other!’ promoters will assure fans, only to have them hugging, shaking hands, and maybe even going out for a drink once the bout is over. Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic will spend the next couple months trading barbs in interviews, pressers, and over social media, but when the idea of a champion vs. champion superfight was first proposed the two men made sure to go over the details together, and ensure they both got a fair shake.
The best bet for knowing when fighters actually don’t like one another is when they’re talking trash and they’re not even in the same weight class. And by that metric, it seems fair to say at this point that Jorge Masvidal and Michael Bisping really don’t like each other. The animosity started last year, when Bisping ripped up a Cuban flag, following Yoel Romero’s UFC 213 loss to Robert Whittaker.
‘Gamebred,’ himself of Cuban descent, spoke to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour recently, to give a little more background to his ongoing feud with the former middleweight champion. And how a chance meeting in Shanghai – following Bisping’s loss to Kelvin Gastelum – gave him all the information he needed to know on the possibility of the two men ever actually fighting (transcript from MMA Fighting).
“I see him already coming from the corner, so I just give him my back and I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t even want to see this dude,’” Masvidal explained, recalling his trip to China and desire not to kick Bisping when he was down after his loss. “I’m hoping he doesn’t see me, but I’m not going to just storm off from the fans and be like, ‘No, I’m not taking pictures because Bisping’s coming.’ So as I’m taking pictures, he’s crossing me by and he gets maybe three feet from me, he sticks out the middle finger and he screams as loud as he can like a little girl, ‘F-ck you! F-ck you! You’re a disgrace to the sport! F*ck you!’
“So I just f-cking lost my mind and I went after him, and a couple UFC employees got there, but there wasn’t that many people to really hold us back. They were mainly holding him back. And his team knew that he was out of line, so they were holding him, and I had maybe like two people on me so I could shake these people and I was trying to. Like always, he cowered out, just like he did in New York, got inside the elevator talking numerous sh*t. (UFC executive) Reed Harris was there trying to take the bullet for him, so he should send a gift basket to Reed Harris at some point thanking him for his life.”
Masvidal campaigned hard late last year, and into early 2018, to be Bisping’s retirement fight, in London – even though he’s never officially competed above 170 lbs. Eventually, however, the ‘Count’ didn’t end up booking any fight. Now, Masvidal seems resigned to the idea that a bout between them just isn’t going to happen, be it in the Octagon or on the street.
“That b-tch ain’t going to fight me, I’ll be honest,” Masvidal said. “I’ve been two, three feet away from this guy, and I’ve seen the look in his one good eye. He does not want to [fight], because he knows that whatever happens on that date, I’m go through that to f-cking punish this guy for the sh-t that he’s done.
“For what Bisping’s done and how he’s acted, I sincerely, in my heart, believe he’s a racist piece of sh-t. I want to break his f-cking face. He spit on a Latin corner’s fighter before [when he fought Jorge Rivera at UFC 127]. He talks numerous sh-t about Yoel like Yoel’s not even f-cking human. And then he rips up my country’s flag. So you can’t tell me and nobody can tell me, ‘No, this is part of the game. He’s just trying to…” No, no, no. I truly believe he is racist. He’s a white imperial motherf-cker, or at least he thinks that, and I would to break his f-cking face. So there’s nothing more to it.”
For Bisping’s part, he claims Masvidal’s version of events is ‘total bloody lies,’ and that the ATT talent should “get over it.” Whatever the truth of their encounter overseas, it seems like this beef will stay a war of words only.
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