The UFC 127 fight between Jorge Rivera and Michael Bisping went a lot further than anyone expected. It all started with a few funny YouTube videos, but things quickly escalated prior to and during the fight itself.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with two of the men who helped create the videos that started the controversy, Ranger Up CEO Nick Palmisciano, and Jorge Rivera himself.
If you are still in the dark on the videos that were created by Ranger Up and Rivera to help promote the fight, you can view them by checking out the Ranger Up YouTube Channel.
Jorge Rivera decided that Michael Bisping would make a great opponent for him while sitting in Germany at UFC 122. His fight against Alessio Sakara had just been canceled due to Sakara coming down with flu-like symptoms.
“We were all bummed about it, and Jorge was sitting there and he just kind of goes, ‘I want to fight Bisping’,“ Ranger Up CEO Nick Palmisciano recalled. “He talked to Joe Silva and Joe let him know that he didn’t think that Bisping was willing to take that fight, but he’d pitch it to him.”
Everyone agreed that it was unlikely that the overseas star would want to fight someone who didn’t quite have the same name recognition. So right then and there, they decided to make sure Bisping would take the fight.
“Jorge decided he was going to make sure Bisping took that fight,” Palmisciano explained. “[He] Talked a little bit of crap, which is definitely not who Jorge tends to be, but he wanted to make sure Bisping would take the fight.”
“He would’ve looked for a bigger opponent and I knew that if I’d talk a little smack, that he’d jump at it,” Rivera added.
The plan went into effect immediately, with the group sitting around and brainstorming ideas.
“I have been doing these sorts of things for a long time, as far back as like high school wrestling. I have an affinity for this kind of stuff,” Nick continued, “the more ridiculous, the better.”
“Jorge is hilarious and he has tons of ideas. Matt Phinney, his boxing coach, is an awesome dude and he’s got lots of ideas,” he continued, “We bring in Lex McMahon and Kelly Crigger, and we just brainstorm.”
Jorge Rivera and Michael Bisping hadn’t interacted much prior to their fight and there really wasn’t personal animosity between the two.
“In all honesty, we were cool,” Jorge laughed. “I really didn’t have a beef with this guy. I knew it was going rile people up. I knew it was going to rile up his fans, I knew it was going to rile up people that hated him.”
But Palmisciano recalled Rivera talking about an incident he witnessed from Bisping following another one of his fights.
“Bisping came back into the locker room and made a statement to his coaches and Jorge was there,” Palmisciano relayed. “He said he just ‘Threw away the game plan for the first two minutes because he was just so aggravated with the guy.’ Jorge retained that.”
“We went back and watched every single interview that we could find with Michael Bisping and while we were watching them, we had a few different psychological assessment tools. We just checked off on different aspects of human personality. Things that we thought bothered him.”
The videos were over-the-top and even ridiculous at times, but they were very specifically targeted to get a reaction out of their opponent, Michael Bisping.
“The first one that was kind of just based on statistics. With the cats, the pink gloves. We knew that was going to drive him nuts, and it did,” Palmisciano explained. “The second one, which was our favorite to do, was the interview sequence where we did it up like a UFC interview. It was just incredibly fun to make. We had like four hours of footage on that and ultimately, it went to the cut we had, but we could have made it like an extended movie.”
“We busted his balls, but it was good natured,” he added. “In the third video, it’s a Monty Python parody! You know, that’s just funny! It’s just something that we wanted to do.”
But it was at that point that they started to get a real reaction from their target.
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