Showing Class in Sports, Business and Life

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Local MMA, Marketing, PR, UFC

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this, but unfortunately this story is not going away.   Among a multitude of MMA topics, I’ve also written about how to give sound bites and how to respond to public debate.  Why? Because it is clear that not everyone knows how to do these things properly. This past weekend Michael Bisping looked less like the “Face” of UK MMA and more like some thug you’d encounter in the streets.

At the weigh-ins Bisping dropped some homophobic slurs, during the fight he threw an illegal (and some say intentional) knee and then spit on his opponent’s corner when the match was ended.  Not exactly a poster of class or sportsmanship that MMA (and specifically the UFC) like to bill the sport with.

This behavior is reprehensible and does not belong in sports.  I’m aware of the antics Rivera used to get into Bisping’s head, but that doesn’t justify the behavior.  This is a combat SPORT, not a street fight.  If you make it personal, its no longer a business.

From all rumored reports, it sounds like Bisping will find himself in some sort of fine or suspension. Given my love of this sport and the fact that I’d like it to have the same respect from the general public as other sports – I agree this is the way to go.  If  T.O. and Ocho-Cinco are fined for elaborate touchdown celebrations I think this more than qualifies for punishment.

The real problem here is that although Bisping won his match, he lost the mental game.  Rivera got to him.  Despite having the “W,” Bisping will likely lose fans, sponsors and whatever shot he was building up to the middle weight belt. This overall situation reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago (for a now defunct PR blog) on the subject of reporters/bloggers “outing” PR people when they didn’t care for a pitch.  I think the below sums up what fighters should keep in mind when dealing with this type of fight:

You have to remember the words of Michael Corleone “this isn’t personal, it’s business.”  At the end of the day, your reputation, your client’s reputation and even your firm’s reputation is on the line.  You  have to be sure to respond properly and fairly – even if what you are responding to seems unjust or unfair….

….The back and forth could go on forever and frankly – it helps no one.  People who go out of there way to publicly embarrass someone typically end up embarrassing themselves.   My hope is that all sides walk away from these dealings having learned something.  For PR, I hope we’ve learned a few things as to how to better reach out to reporters and bloggers.  For the reporting/blogging side I hope you can walk away from this wondering what it would be like to be the one “out’d” so to speak.  Otherwise, we’re all going down a very long, very circular path to which all sides suffer.

Jane, get me off this crazy thing….

What do you think of the Bisping/Rivera situation?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. The antics that Bisping engaged in leading into the fight and during the fight were appalling. I understand that Rivera’s youtube videos were meant as a less than subtle engagement of psychological warfare – however, the homophobic remark and spit hurled at Rivera’s corner in addition to what looks like an intentional and not “heat of the moment” illegal knee are grotesque.

    I sincerly hope that Bisping receives more than a slap on the wrist and I hope someone repeats the “lesson” that was given by Dan Henderson. Eventually, people like Bisping end up swimming where the water is too deep and I’m anxious to see him drown.

    On the other hand, what are your thoughts about Jorge’s youtube videos? Were they over the top? I didn’t think so but I’m curious as to how you view such videos and videos like the Joe Lauzon videos leading up to his fight against Gabe Ruediger (sp.?).

    • As I said in an earlier post, I didn’t find the videos particularly funny. However, I did like the time, effort and detail that went into them. These weren’t quick on-the-fly segments. Rivera and team did their work, planned and got into Bisping’s head. Although mind games may not be new, the social media world is definitely a new platform for it. Rivera gets kudos for using mass market channels to promote his fight and get under his opponent’s skin.

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