For my money, Twitter is the greatest invention since central air conditioning. One of the many reasons I love Twitter is that it allows nobodies like me to hear famous athletes and celebrities speak without a filter.
This week Staff Sgt. Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) initiated a war of Tweets with fellow MMA middleweight fighter Michael Bisping (@bisping). It started on Tuesday, when Kennedy launched this salvo in the direction of Bisping:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TimKennedyMMA/status/70536816268288000″]
First, the backstory. Kennedy’s friend Jorge Rivera (@Jorge_Conquista) fought Michael Bisping at UFC 127. Prior to the fight, Rivera and Ranger Up — an MMA apparel company run by a former Army Ranger — had put together a series of videos poking fun of Bisping, a fighter who’s inspired a hate/love relationship with fans during stints as a contestant and coach on The Ultimate Fighter TV show. The Ranger Up videos were hilarious, but Bisping wasn’t amused.
Bisping beat Rivera via TKO , but the victory was marred by a vicious illegal knee to Rivera’s face, which appeared to many (including UFC President Dana White) to be intentional. After the fight, Bisping did little to rebuild goodwill when he taunted and spit towards Rivera’s corner.
Fast forward to this week. Kennedy calls out Bisping on Tuesday, and Bisping immediately takes the bait:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/bisping/status/70766608120954880″]
Kennedy then stepped up his criticism:[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TimKennedyMMA/status/70863826257575936″]
When an MMA fan asked Kennedy why he was bringing up a fight from months ago, the Texas Guardsman invoked Rivera.[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TimKennedyMMA/status/70577101085999104″]
I have no doubt that Kennedy’s animosity towards Bisping is genuine. But Bisping is nonetheless a high-profile contender in the UFC’s middleweight division, and a fight with him would be huge for Kennedy. And now that Strikeforce, the association Kennedy fights in, has been bought by the UFC, the matchup is possible. A win against Bisping would fast-track Kennedy’s career, and drumming up some noise on Twitter probably appeals to UFC execs looking to sell intriguing matchups. Bad blood sells.
Bisping is clearly much less enthusiastic about a potential matchup with Kennedy. On Wednesday he steipped up the war of words, dismissing Kennedy in an interview with MMAFighting.com.
“It’s completely weird. He actually sent me a Tweet. It was directed to me, @bisping, ‘Bisping you’re an a**hole,’ or something, ‘You disrespected the sport and Jorge Rivera for the illegal knee.’ Normally, I never, ever respond to negative Tweets because, you know, all you’re doing is confirming to this person that you’ve actually read it and it may have gotten to you, so I never usually respond,” Bisping said. “But on this occasion, I thought, Here you’ve got another fellow professional of the sport that should know better, and he’s directing it at me. I’ve never met the guy, he doesn’t even fight in the UFC, and I just said, You know what, Tim Kennedy? Go f**k yourself. You’ve missed the train. That bandwagon left two months ago. I don’t know what his problem is. Again, he’s another one in a long list of people who’s trying to make a name off my back.”
In his own crude way, Bisping is probably correct about one thing: Kennedy won’t be his next fight. He’s not a known commodity in the UFC yet, and Bisping is one of his division’s highest-profile fighters. But one can only hope that somewhere down the road, the UFC will make this happen.