Michael Bisping wants to see harsher penalties on illegal knees to grounded opponents

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Farah Hannoun and Mike Bohn
·3 min read
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Michael Bisping thinks extreme consequences could stem from kneeing a grounded opponent.

It’s been a topic that’s been heavily debated of late, especially after Petr Yan was disqualified for kneeing Aljamain Sterling in the head when he was a grounded opponent in their championship fight at UFC 259. Sterling was deemed unable to continue and as a result, Yan lost his title.

In another incident but with different circumstances, flyweight champion Adriano Moraes retained his title at ONE on TNT I on Wednesday, when he knocked out Demetrious Johnson with a knee when he was a grounded opponent, a totally legal move under ONE’s unified rules.

So while the strike is encouraged in some rulesets, former UFC middleweight champion Bisping thinks kneeing a downed opponent should be illegal. He likes how things currently stand in the UFC and worries about the kind of damage a knee could potentially generate.


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“It’s a tricky one,” Bisping told MMA Junkie. “Because I’m not for a guy being on his knees and kneeing him square in the head if you’re standing up because you can generate so much power. So much power like that, and you can really hurt someone. We’ve been very lucky: We’ve never seen a tragic accident or injury in the UFC. But we don’t want to do things that might encourage that one day. All this hard work the UFC’s done, and the media, in making this sport as widely accepted as it is, all it needs is one death, and God forbid, things change. So I’m not for that. But it is a tricky one.”

Bisping understands that sometimes fighters get baited into throwing the illegal strike, which makes it different to control. In fact, he’s done it himself when he was deducted a point for illegally kneeing a downed Jorge Rivera at UFC 127 in 2011. Fortunately for Bisping, Rivera was able to continue and he ended up stopping him in Round 2.

“I hate seeing people play this game of putting their hand down – it’s a bit of a cowardly move, if you ask me,” Bisping added. “I don’t know, because they always talk about, ‘Was it intentional, or was it not intentional?’ Well, they’re always intentional. You didn’t accidentally knee him. But they didn’t necessarily know that he was technically down. But yes, of course your brain sends the message to throw the knee, and you throw it to the face.

“And I know a lot of people watching this might be thinking that I’m a hypocrite because they’re probably thinking about Jorge Rivera. I did knee him in the face when he was down, but he was getting up and in the heat of the moment, you’re in a fight. Adrenaline is spiking like crazy, and especially if you think you’ve got him hurt and you’re going to win the fight, you’ve got to make these micro judgements in a fraction of a second – and it’s very hard. So I don’t think they need to change the rules necessarily, but just tougher penalties.”


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