Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 | 11:30 p.m.
- Live blog: John Dodson, Diego Brandao win ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 14 titles
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 14 finale weigh-in: Finalists ready; Bisping cusses at fans
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 14 finale betting odds and picks
- Highly touted bantamweights collide at ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 14 finale
- Michael Bisping again in starring role as ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ draws to a close
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Meet this season’s cast of TUF competitors
- Coaches selected for next season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
- All MMA/boxing coverage
Villains aren’t created out of failure.
Sports fans don’t harbor unruly amounts of hatred for competitors who lose. To become a villain, an athlete must first succeed near the highest level of his sport.
Although Michael Bisping is unquestionably the most hated middleweight in the UFC, he’s also one of the division’s best fighters. Bisping (22-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) proved it again Saturday in “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 finale at the Palms by beating Jason “Mayhem” Miller (24-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC) via third-round TKO.
“There’s good guys and bad guys, and people try to paint me as the bad guy,” Bisping said. “I don’t see what I do to deserve that, but who cares?”
Bisping said he only acted like himself during his two stints coaching on “TUF,” but his attitude is perceived as arrogant by many fans. He doesn’t help himself much at events like Friday’s weigh-in, when he flipped off the crowd and cursed at them before making his exit.
Bisping and the well-liked Miller regularly clashed while coaching against each other on the latest season of “TUF”. Most of the time, Bisping came across as the instigator.
But Bisping would counter by saying Miller brought it upon himself. Miller followed the fans’ lead, according to Bisping, and decided to dislike him without ever giving him a chance. Miller also frequently criticized Bisping as a fighter and questioned his accomplishments in mixed martial arts.
“He’s been quick to discredit me and say I was given handpicked opponents and things like that,” Bisping said. “That doesn’t sit well with me. It’s offensive. It was nice to go out there and teach him a lesson.”
Miller had a black eye and blood pouring out of his nose by the time the referee stepped in to stop the fight 14 minutes in. Bisping overwhelmed Miller with his boxing in the final round-and-a-half of the fight.
The 32-year-old British fighter’s combinations were landing crisply and he repeatedly hammered Miller with his jab. Miller gasped for breath and looked exhausted, leading commentators and fans to question his conditioning.
But that angered Bisping even more than being booed by thousands of fans.
“I’m sure he had the cardio to go all five, but when someone is landing big body shots like I was, kneeing him in the stomach and punching you repeatedly in the face, your cardio gets affected,” Bisping said. “The best runners in the world, if you kick the (expletive) out of them, they aren’t running as well.”
Even Miller was a believer in Bisping by the end of the night. Miller declined to go the oft-explored route of coming up with excuses for his performance.
The 30-year-old from Southern California credited Bisping.
“For all the boos Michael Bisping gets,” Miller said in the octagon after the fight, “he deserves your applause as a fighter.”
Whether Bisping would admit it or not, Miller’s comments had to give him satisfaction. Bisping was most unhappy when Miller described him as a “points fighter” and someone with no finishing ability during the time leading up to the bout.
Bisping put extra emphasis on stopping Miller when he heard those assertions.
“For someone who has no punching power, I do believe the statistic is seven of my last eight opponents have all gone to the hospital,” Bisping said.
After his impressive performance, the fans at the Palms still overwhelmingly greeted Bisping with a negative reaction. They booed lustily as they headed for the exits.
It wasn’t until only a few hundred fans remained that Bisping mustered a faint cheer. He described the fans as hypocrites in the post-fight press conference. Remarks like that aren’t going to help Bisping’s popularity. He doesn’t care.
“Maybe at the start of my career it bothered me a little bit,” Bisping said. “But now, what can I do? I can’t change it. I just go with being myself. I’ve said it a million times: As long as the people closest to me are happy with me, I’m at peace with myself.”