In a 2012 interview on MMA Uncensored Live, Bisping broke a gentleman’s agreement in the sport by talking about what took place in the gym, particularly a sparring session with Rockhold, who was the Strikeforce champion at the time.
“Let me put it like this,” said the British middleweight. “I’ve sparred with Luke Rockhold recently and let’s just say, I’m the unofficial Strikeforce champion.”
Heading into their Nov. 8 showdown at UFC Fight Night 55 at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Rockhold plans to make Bisping pay for his comments and set the record straight about their sparring sessions.
“I’m just going to look to showcase my skills in this fight. I’m very happy about fighting Michael, and I’m going to go in there and perform,” said Rockhold during a recent media conference call.
“It’s definitely a bonus to shut his mouth and set the record straight on that note. He’s a guy that I really haven’t respected along the way for how he’s carried himself around the sport,” added the Californian. “I’ve been around a while. I hear a lot of things. I see a lot of things. I really don’t care for the guy. I’m looking forward to shutting him up and silencing a lot of people.”
Their accounts of what took place behind the American Kickboxing Academy’s closed doors differ drastically. Bisping clearly felt like he got the better of Rockhold, but Rockhold doesn’t recall it that way.
“The thing is, when Michael and I was sparring, he was the one shooting. He was the one trying to wrestle, and I wasn’t even standing southpaw. I switched my stance. I’m very confident on my feet,” said the 30-year-old. “I’m going to out-strike him.”
Fans love a good rivalry, and they’re getting to see one play out between the two middleweight contenders.
“People love a feud, a genuine feud, and this is what they’re getting. I don’t like the guy,” stated Rockhold.
“He just seems to not be a nice, genuine guy to most people. He only carries himself to being nice to people that will further himself and people that are going to help him,” added the Santa Cruz native. “You’ve got to treat people the way you want to be treated. It seems like he’s a prick everywhere in life.”
What happened in a training session two years ago doesn’t really matter other than providing a good backstory for marketing the fight. What’s important is what happens inside the Octagon on Nov. 8 when the world is watching and the win or loss goes down on their official records. Rockhold believes that when the cage door closes, Bisping will be in for a rude awakening.
“He knows what he’s doing on his feet. He’s good, but he’s going to realize that I’m on a different level. He’s in for a rude awakening,” he said. “He’s going to wake up and know, and he’s going to realize that there’s a big difference between me and him. He’s going to be in for a rude awakening.
“I’m not going to lose at all to this guy.”