LOS ANGELES – There’s clearly no love lost between UFC middleweights Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold.
For the past several months, the two fighters have bickered back-and-forth through interviews, social media and essentially every other public platform available in which it’s possible to hurl insults at the other.
While Rockhold (12-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is still recovering from a broken toe sustained in April and Bisping (24-6 MMA, 14-6 UFC) has far more pressing affairs going on in the form of a UFC Fight Night 48 main event fight against Cung Le (9-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) later this month, the talking hasn’t stopped.
If a future matchup wasn’t already imminent, Rockhold made his desire to compete entirely clear when he recently stated he plans to “take out” Bisping’s non-surgically repaired eye should the Brit “squeak” by Le.
Bisping has made some bold statements of his own in the past, but he didn’t take kindly to the threat and believes Rockhold is simply making outrageous statements as a cry for attention.
“He’s a f–king a–hole for calling me out constantly on Twitter,” Bisping told MMAjunkie. “He’s tweeting me constantly, he’s looking for attention, and maybe he’s trying to build his Twitter followers. I’ve got nothing against the guy. He seems like a nice enough guy. He just needs to f–king get over it. F–king guy is getting on like a vagina.”
Bisping is no stranger to rivalries with his fellow fighters. From his early barbs with Charles McCarthy and Dan Henderson to more recent feuds with the likes of Jorge Rivera, Jason Miller, Alan Belcher and Tim Kennedy, there’s no denying “The Count” is a magnet for drama.
The majority of Bisping’s previous encounters have become personal, and while it appears his relationship with Rockhold is drifting in that direction, Bisping said this situation is different.
Bisping said the younger version of himself would let his emotions flare up, but at 35, he finds Rockhold’s advances to be humorous. Now, he said, he views them as a sign of immaturity.
“I laugh my ass off; I sit there with my son laughing (at him),” Bisping said. “Luke Rockhold is going on again. He’s trying to build his Twitter followers by attacking me, and then I respond, and maybe he gets more followers. I don’t know. I don’t think about those things. He obviously does because he’s a f–king kid going around to pool parties.”
Even though Bisping isn’t fond of the way Rockhold chooses to act, he said he understands where he’s coming from. Finding success in MMA is just as much about building a name as it is winning in the octagon. Because of that, Bisping feels the lesser-known fighter is merely trying to make a name at his expense.
“More power to him,” Bisping said. “I’ve got nothing against the guy. He’s doing well, so good for him. I’ve got nothing against anybody in the division. There’s nobody that I do dislike. I’m a family man, I’ve got three kids, and all I care about is my family and performing for them. Go out there, make as much noise as you can, earn as much money as you can, and kill it. Good for you. I’m on the same quest. We’re all trying to get ahead in life.”
Bisping has been a member of the UFC roster since winning “The Ultimate Fighter 3” in June 2006. He’s fought 20 times for the promotion against some of the top fighters in the sport, but a chance to compete for a world championship has eluded him due to key losses.
Rockhold, on the other hand, is a former Strikeforce titleholder who has already placed his name in title discussion after registering two victories in his first three octagon appearances.
Both men have previously stated they are ready and willing to throw down, but the timing just hasn’t come together since Rockhold joined the UFC roster. If Bisping gets past Le, few obstacles would stand in the way of finally settling the score with Rockhold.
While Bisping made it clear his focus is directed entirely on his upcoming fight with Le, he knows the time to resolve his issues with Rockhold, fist-to-face, will soon arrive.
Rockhold is currently ranked No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings. That sits six spots above No. 12 Bisping. When comparing accomplishments under the UFC banner, Bisping thinks Rockhold is held in too high regard. There’s one way to find out for sure, though.
“Luke Rockhold comes into the division, gets knocked out by Vitor (Belfort), beats f–king Tim Boetsch and Costas Philippou, and people are calling him the No. 1 contender?” Bisping said. “F–k me, I’ve fought the who’s who. The top guys, on short notice, I’ve always been that guy. Maybe if I played it a little more f–king cagey and picked my fights a little bit, I would have fought for the title a long, long time ago.
“I’m a real fighter. If you want to f–king fight me, then do it, it’s as simple as that.”
Bisping’s UFC Fight Night 48 bout takes place Aug. 23 at The Venetian Macao’s CotaiArena in Macau. The entire event streams on UFC Fight Pass.
For more on UFC Fight Night 48, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.