It’s no secret that UFC president Dana White loves to make big wagers, and none was bigger than the fight between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping. The fight was originally scheduled for UFC 200 in July, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the match has been rescheduled for UFC 213 on May 18 in Las Vegas, Nev., Whitey booksie has reopened, and he’s taken some big money wagers on the fight.
While the fight was mostly seen as a toss-up, with Rockhold having a slight edge in most ratings surveys, White and the UFC’s top bookie were dead-set on Bisping pulling off the upset and ending Rockhold’s undefeated streak in their first-time headlining bout.
The Surge In Participation
Just two weeks before their fight on April 10, Rockhold and Bisping were both coming off knockout victories in their UFC bouts. In fact, the fight was even considered one of the best match-ups for several years. The two were certainly proven commodities in the UFC, with 11 of Bisping’s 15 wins coming by knockout or TKO. In comparison, seven of Rockhold’s 15 wins ended in the same way. Not only that, but Bisping never before had been stopped in 22 fights. So while there was obviously a lot of hype surrounding this matchup, many were betting on the underdog to pull off the upset.
Why Did White Love This Fight So Much?
There was a reason why White loved this fight so much. For one, even though it was billed as the main event, it was actually the second highest-rated UFC fight on ESPN this year. The first was the Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit fight, which was actually a co-main event. The rating for the Rockhold vs. Bisping fight was 12.8 compared to Lawler’s 12.3 and Condit’s 11.9. If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that the oddsmakers were actually very close to calling the exact outcome of this fight. Bisping won by 29.847 seconds over five rounds. So while the outcome was what most people expected, the fact that it was so close (and in favor of the home team) was pretty exciting.
What About Rockhold’s Undefeated Streak?
While most were excited about Bisping getting the upset win, there was also a lot of focus on Rockhold’s unprecedented undefeated streak, which was now at 16 fights. Many thought that Bisping’s wrestling and ground game would be the final nail in the coffin for Rockhold. The problem was that not everyone had seen Rockhold’s victories over the years. Most of his wins came by way of spectacular knockouts, and many thought that his TKO victories over Mark Muñoz, Michael Johnson, and Chris Weidman were fluke occurrences. So while many were down on Rockhold, they didn’t necessarily see him as a level above Bisping. That is, until Bisping’s surprising TKO victory in their first fight. It was then that a lot of people started believing that maybe Rockhold was for real and that he could actually beat anyone in the UFC.
The Backlash Against White
While many people praised White for the decision to put the match-up on at such a high profile event, just a few hours after the fight’s conclusion, there was backlash against the UFC president. White was accused of tanking Bisping’s chances of winning the fight. And while Bisping did end up losing the fight, he did so by a very close margin. So it was a very close fight. Many people didn’t see that as an upset, they saw it as White manipulating the system to ensure Bisping won. The fact that he lost by such a slim margin made it even worse. In the aftermath of the fight, White was even accused of doctoring the scorecards. However, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has confirmed that the scores were done the old-fashioned way, with the officials personally counting the punches and kicks. White has since apologized for his actions, but not everyone is buying his excuse.
What Does This Mean For The Future Of The UFC?
It’s true that Rockhold’s undefeated streak is now at 17 fights, and Bisping will likely be looking to get his revenge on May 18. The victory over Rockhold will give Bisping the bragging rights and prestige he’s been looking for, as well as earn him a nice chunk of change from White’s wallet. White has a habit of backing winners, and Bisping is clearly the favorite going into this fight. Many are wondering if this winning streak will be ending for the 16-1 underdog, and if White will be having some more scorecard manipulating again.
Whatever happens on May 18, Rockhold will almost certainly be back in the octagon, and there’s a good chance that he’ll be continuing his undefeated streak. While many will be hoping for a retirement bout for the 43-year-old, keep in mind that he’s still got a lot of fight in him. And who knows? Maybe he’ll be able to finally end Bisping’s undefeated streak and put a stop to all of this scorecard fixing once and for all. For now, though, Rockhold is content to continue racking up the wins, and many are excited to see what he does next.