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Three Reasons Why You Should Always Cheat in an MMA Fight

(“Cheat to win!” / Photo via Getty)

There are a lot of things we’ll never know about the illegal knee Michael Bisping landed on Jorge Rivera midway through the first round of their UFC 127 co-main event. We’ll never know if the knee was truly “intentional” or how badly it actually hurt Rivera or whether or not it directly contributed to Bisping’s second-round TKO victory. What we do know for certain is that (whether he meant to or not) Bisping very obviously broke the rules and – aside from losing an ultimately irrelevant point on the judges’ scorecards – suffered absolutely no consequences for it en route to an important win over a man who’d quickly become his arch rival.

It should be noted that blasting Rivera with the knee wasn’t Bisping’s only infraction during the fight. He also grabbed the cage to avoid getting swept from top position with about 3:40 on the clock in the first. For that instance of clear rule-breakage his only punishment was a couple of stern words from referee Mark Goddard. So in a nutshell, in just under seven total minutes of fighting, Bisping indisputably broke the rules twice, yet the end result was that he got his hand raised, got to spit in the general direction of his opponent’s corner men and almost certainly got rewarded with a hefty win bonus from the UFC.  Not too bad, all things considered.

As an isolated incident, the only thing Bisping’s performance against Rivera conclusively proves is that he’s kind of an a-hole. Unfortunately, when viewed as part of the big picture of how fights are officiated under the unified rules, we’re really only left to draw one conclusion: In MMA, it makes more sense to cheat than follow the rules. So long as you can keep yourself from getting bogged down by intangibles like “honor” and “fairness,” here are three reasons why.

Reason 1: Because more often than not, cheaters win.

We’d love to see some statistics on how often a fighter either pokes his opponent in the eye, kicks him in the groin and/or delivers some other kind of illegal strike and then goes on to win the fight. We bet the results of that survey would yield overwhelmingly positive numbers in favor of cheating. Truth is, if you think you can win a fight by stoppage, any realistic risk-reward analysis clearly indicates that the upside of cheating far outweighs the potential hazards. As long as you don’t actually go so far as to get yourself disqualified, you’re probably good.

If you are, say, Michael Bisping you’re essentially gambling that by grabbing the fence, you can keep the fight in a position that gives you a better chance to win. When you’re fighting an underdog as significant as Rivera, that seems like a pretty good wager. Rather than end up on the bottom, you grab the fence to stay on top, where a couple minutes later you can illegally knee your opponent in the head. Seems like a pretty simple choice.

Sure, you might lose a point for the knee but if you’re Bisping, cheating helps you win by stoppage and winning by stoppage eliminates the consequences of cheating. It’s a beautiful little equation, really. Especially when half your paycheck depends on whether you win or lose.

Reason 2: Because somehow, it makes the other guy look like a pussy.

On the flipside to Reason 1, actually getting fouled in an MMA fight is a no-win situation. If you’re the guy who gets kneed in the head, suddenly you find yourself down on your hands and knees trying to clear the cobwebs and gauge how badly you’re hurt. Meanwhile, your opponent is on the other side of the cage taking a breather and raising his fists to the audience to show them he’s not the one to blame for this silly little delay. And they cheer him.

Everyone involved – the ref, the doctor, the fans, your opponent, the baldo who owns the company – all have a vested interest in getting things restarted as soon as possible. When the doctor asks you if you can continue, you have to say yes or you look like a pussy. You can’t quit, lest you run the risk of turning into Jamie Varner (that is, universally hated). No matter what the extent of the damage to your body, you have to go on. To make matters worse, you almost always hurry back to action before you’re fully ready.

At UFC 127, you know how much time Jorge Rivera took to recover from the illegal knee that crashed into his dome? Two minutes, eight seconds. Four minutes, 20 seconds after the knee, the round was over. Seven minutes, 25 seconds after the knee, Rivera had lost by TKO stoppage. After the event, he had to go to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have a concussion. Think maybe it’s possible he was fighting hurt there down the stretch? Again: Advantage cheater.

Reason 3: Because you may not even be penalized for it at all … and a lot of times nobody even knows the goddamned rules.

Like we said earlier, the only real consequence for breaking the rules in an MMA fight is that you might lose a point. A lot of times that doesn’t even happen. Usually, you can get away with one “minor” instance of cheating – an “accidental” groin kick, eye poke or a fence grab, for example — with only a warning. But for Bisping, all it took was one fence-grab to keep the fight where he needed it to be to win. In reality, if you’re a striker and somebody tries to take you down or sweep you, you’re kind of a fool if you don’t grab the fence.

In addition, if you do commit a foul significant enough to cause a break in the action, there’s a good chance neither the ref nor the ringside doctor is going to know the correct procedure. Pretty frequently the people in charge don’t even seem to understand what the rules are regarding fouls. Case in point: Even Joe Rogan (who watches more live MMA than almost anybody) expressed some confusion during UFC 127 if Rivera would be awarded five minutes to recover after he’d been kneed, or if that recovery period only applied groin strikes. In other words, committing a foul creates a chaotic situation where everybody feels the need to get back to the actual fighting ASAP. Once again: Advantage cheater.

In closing, here are Rivera’s comments from the post fight press conference to MMA, which underscore what a shitty situation he was in following the knee: “I was hurt, man. I was hurt,” Rivera said. “But the truth of it is, I knew that most of the people that were there, were there to watch this fight. I knew the hype was built up, they wanted to see it, and I didn’t want it to end like that. It’s just not in me to quit. That’s not how I wanted it to go .. I would have liked a few more minutes (to recover), but the truth is, (the doctors) want to know if you can continue now. They want to know how hurt you are. I just wanted to put on a show.”

Rivera did just that. He vaulted himself back into action and put on a show … right up to the point when he lost by TKO and likely saw his own resurgence in the middleweight division come to a screeching halt. Meanwhile, Bisping is assumedly on to bigger and better things. It kind of makes it seem like the best thing Rivera could have done for his career was – like Bisping – just to cheat his ass off.

- Chad Dundas

Cagepotato Comments

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ccman- March 1, 2011 at 5:44 am
Saying bisping hate gets old sounds a bit to much like the leave britney alone youtube video.
MMA_Hole- March 1, 2011 at 1:15 am
The relentless Bisping hate on this site is getting real old, real quick. It not like there isn't plenty going on in the world of MMA at the moment that could be reported on rather than putting up thinly veiled Bisping bashing articles.

Honestly, CagePotato feels more and more like it's put together by the average teenage Sherdog user everyday.
rogerw- February 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm
Reason #4:

Because the fans and the media don't punish the cheaters. Yeah Bisping's knee was very in-your-face and he himself is not a guy who's easy to ignore, but 9 times out of 10 nobody gives a shit after the fight. So while the rules might be insufficient to punish cheaters in the ring, the fans and especially sites like Cage Potato should be blamed just as much imo for not holding the fighters accountable to decent standards of sportsmanship.
ghostboner- February 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm
bitteralex is bitter
P2- February 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm
It's like no one has ever seen a fighter try to land a knee while his opponent was getting up, or land a punch coming out of a clinch. Those techniques require perfect timing; if the timing is missed, the blow misses or hits early (in this case, illegally.) Maybe Bisping should've backed up, let Rivera back up and checked to make sure he was ready to fight again. If you want villains and heels, go back to watching professional wrestling. Believe it or not, these guys are human. It is possible for a professional fighter to make a mistake in the ring. As far as grabbing the cage goes, give me a break. I've seen that cage get grabbed by almost every fighter in the UFC (good guys and bad guys.)

@CP - I realize you guys aren't trying to be an unbiased, MMA news source, but if you ever want to be taken seriously, you've gotta try to be a little bit objective. (I know, I know. I'm a "cunt-nugget" and a "fucktard.")
ThrashingMad- February 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm
Rules 1 through 1000, you still look fine because Jorge was being a faggot before the fight.
bitteralex- February 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm
holy crap cp... was this an article on cheating or just an anti-bisping tirade? most media outlets atleast try to give the impression of impartiality... but i know you guys like to mess around on here so its all good...

i enjoyed how you used only bisping as an example of cheating... i mean its only natural... he just fought and he did cheat... but cmon you couldn't mention other cheaters too? lets not forget that gsp kicked hughes in the balls... twice... in a title fight...

but i especially enjoyed this part.. "cheating helps you win by stoppage and winning by stoppage eliminates the consequences of cheating." thats fucking funny because up until a few days ago.. bisping was a grinder... couldn't ever finish a guy... only danced around and out-pointed his opponents... well atleast according to 80% of the posters on cp's comments anyways...
irony... its a funny thing...
RaginAsian- February 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm
This is why the saying goes "Cheaters never prosper" and not "win". Show me a guy currently holding a UFC belt and I'll show you one who will beat the piss out of a cheater.
ccman- February 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm
I know, lol at ccman being reasonable.
1. Bisping is trying to save his image. After g-sot got man handled, suddenly bisping is a proud brit moving to australia. Not without an 1850 conviction he isn't. He was told carry both markets.
2. Knee was intentional. If he had planted a foot and hesitated. Maybe. As is, blatent.
3. Anyone wanna bet next contract this comes up? Anyone wanna bet this already came up?
4. If you think knee had no bearing in the outcome says you have never had your bell rung in a contact sport. As an athlete you keep going, pride requires to have the gumption to do as you do.otherwise you would play a bitch game like football.
5. Nfl ref jack the rules all the time or at least need Monday media to clean things up. All sports rules are muddied.
6. Ringside dr. Should lose his license allowing fight to continue. He was clearly hurt. Said as much, but hated the idea of it ending thusly.
7. Even the most avid bisping fan, unless you really don't care about this as an actual sport, should be upset at his behavior while drs looked at riviera. I hit a guy in a gae and he's hurt, I only hope he's not seriously hurt. No matter how much shit he talked or how many cheap shots he has given me. Its called being a sportsmen.
8. Bisping calls himself an ambassador, which apparently only means pay me more. Sure as fuck doesn't mean advance the sport. I would respect hi more if he called himself "the only none american english speaker who bothered to learn basic wrestling thus marketable, please but my mma gear with union jacks". Apparently soccer hooligans approve. Of course those fucktards like soccer.
Romanhelmut- February 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm
What is up with the British fighters? They are all goddamn cheaters and make me embarrassed of my heritage...

Bisping vs. Rivera with the knee
Daley vs. Kosheck with the after fight head punch
Kelly vs. Cerrone with the sucker punch touching gloves
Hardy....well...he is just a cocksucker....
Canadian Chronic- February 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm
I cant believe there are fucktards defending Bisping. So what if Riveria talked shit? Does that give Bisping the right to use illegal tactics? Thats the whole point of the fight, to settle their difference! Bisping had to cheat and then celebrate and then talk shit to Riverias cornermen and then spit on them, what a complete fuckin idiot... Romanowski did it in the NFL and everybody thought that it was COOL?!?!?!? Yeah, way to set the sport back decades fuckstick.

Hallmark of a true champion.
Anybody who says they would have acted in the same way, well I guess thats what happens when you let a bunch of inbred slackjawed fools throw down, oh wait, there those guys that think they're awesome while they and ten friends boot dance some fucker lying on the ground, yeah we're super tuff

P2- February 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm
I just don't see a professional fighter throwing a premeditated, intentional, illegal knee. The risk is way too high. The ref is going to see it . If it was a shorter, sneakier knee, obscured by the fighters' bodies, I might think that Bisping was trying to get away with something. But it was so blatant!
Like Jones' 12 to 6 elbows. Both fighters did the exact same thing when they realized what they did was illegal: they put their hands up, almost in surrender. They knew they fucked up, but it was too late. It's like saying "fuck" infront of kids. Sometimes it takes you a second to realize what you did, and then you can't believe you did it.
newdeal- February 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm
before the clearly on purpose illegal knee to the head I actually though I might cheer for Bisping because the other guy was talking so much trash. Then after he threw that I was like well now I don't care who wins because I still don't like the other guy and Bisping clearly thought he had to cheat to win. I didn't even notice the fence grab
El Guapo- February 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm
It goes both ways, in my opinion. Rivera: Talk shit and you better be prepared to back it up. Bisping: You act like a cunt you're gonna get treated as such. Sticking to the article, an illegal tactic is just that... illegal. If it results in a fighter getting hurt and being at a disadvantage(groin shot, eye poke, knee to the dome), regardless of intent, I'd like to see more DQ's. It sucks, yes, but like the article said plenty of fighters try to tough it out and as a result end up getting stopped shortly thereafter.
RwilsonR- February 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm
@ Rex and eviltwin - Exactly! Did you see that bitch Nicole with Ron Goldman? She was asking for it!
Chael Sonnens Balls- February 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm
You talk enough trash your bound to get kneed in the head ...
What's the big fucking deal?
ghostboner- February 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm
I beg to differ. All bisping's cheating will get him is a fight with one of 3 Brazilians, all of whom will likely cause most of his fight purse to be spent on hospital bills. Cup Cheik Kongo? Where has all his cup ckeikery gotten him? Koscheck (although the cheat is still disputed) got a severely fucked up face, right side is still numb from nerve damage, so hard to call that a payoff. It's fools gold. Seems like a great payoff now, not so much in the long run.
tallkitchenbags- February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm
bisping is a total douche and is bad for the sport.

for an illegal shot like that he should have been automatically disqualified. without strict enforcement and harsh rules dirty fighters have little incentive to fight fair.
kmfdmkid- February 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Had Jorge done the exact same things, he'd be getting a heros welcome, i'm sure.
ccman- February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm
Bisping will always be dispised by any country that has dental care and doesn't break it economy paying for toothless monarchs. But the brits like their food and kate perry as a singer not cum dumpster so kinda pigeon holes them doesn't it?
Patrick- February 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm
This shit happens all the time in MMA. All the time.
Why did it take so long to write an entire article about it?

Oh yeah, the article isn't really about cheating so much as it's a good excuse to shit talk Bisping.
This shit is so 8th grade, and I'm not even a Bisping fan.
LordCoSaX- February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Yep, you are right. It disgusts me how groin kicks and eye pokes and fence grabs are not penalized. It should be an automatic -1 point, that way people would actually be fucking careful. The way things are now, assholes like Koscheck, Kongo and Bisping always have a free kick to the balls or finger to the eye to get them out of trouble. Its pathetic. Sometimes the ref only takes a point after the third infraction, sometimes even at that point he does nothing (kongo vs cro cop).
Turd Furgeson- February 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Author not other. Ugh.
eviltwin- February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm
exactly. "Did you see what she was wearing? She totally wanted me to force myself on her."
Turd Furgeson- February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Often times when the fighter I'm goin for is losing, I find myself screaming,"KICK HIM IN THE BALLS!!" That's a game changer, and most of the time fighters don't even get warned for their first offense. The other of this article speaks truth lads.