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You a--hole! Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping 'Early Exchange' for UFC Fight Night 55

When the middleweight tilt between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping was announced, fans knew there would be a bevy of verbal assaults prior to their physical altercation inside the Octagon. Now, with just over a week before their anticipated main event on Nov. 8 in Sydney, Australia, airing live on UFC Fight Pass, the two men are really heating up the trash talk. In our latest iteration of "Early Exchange," the two middleweight contenders go for the jugular.

Matt King

Everyone loves a good rivalry.

Pre-fight hyperbole and trash talk have been a part of the fight game since its inception, and certain mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have learned to use their gift of gab as a way to progress their careers and angle themselves into marquee fights.

One such man is former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 3 winner, Michael Bisping. The No. 9-ranked middleweight has been a perennial contender for nearly nine years thanks in large part to his ability to garner interest in his fights, and of course his actual ability as an MMA fighter.

Bisping's latest target is former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, and while the mutual respect is evident, so is their mutual disdain for one another.

Prior to the two men settling their score in the main event of UFC Fight Night 55 next weekend (Sat., Nov. 8, 2014) in Sydney, Australia, both men participated in a media conference call yesterday (replay here), each lashing out with some epic trash talk.

In our latest "Early Exchange" iteration, Bisping and Rockhold go back-and-forth with verbal jabs prior to stepping into the cage in about 10 days.

Rockhold still upset with Bisping's comment about being the "unofficial Strikeforce champion":

Rockhold: It's definitely a bonus to shut his mouth and set the record straight on that note. He's just a guy that I really haven't respected along the way with how he carries himself around the sport. I've been around for a while and I hear a lot of things, I see a lot of things, and I really don't care for the guy. I'm looking forward to shutting him up for myself and a lot of other people.

He just seems to not be a genuine guy to most people. He is seemingly only nice to people that can help him further himself. I've really heard a lot of bad things about him. He's just not nice to the average joe. You got to treat people the way you want to be treated, and it seems like he is a prick everywhere in life.

Bisping: Well, allow me to shed some light on that situation because Luke, I’m not sure he’s aware of this, this is a fucking conference call, so you’re supposed to try and be a little bit eloquent and get your side of the story over. Luke, I don’t know you, I don’t care for you, we haven’t shared a single proper conversation. You’re basing your facts, or what you presume is fact, on absolutely nothing, on fresh air. We’ve had one conversation of the sparring match in question, which everybody talks about. You don’t know me, you don’t know me as a person, so kiss my fucking ass, you lanky piece of shit. I’ll see you in Australia, you asshole. We’ll put it all to bed then."

The potential of a title shot after a win in Australia:

Bisping: Luke's last two fights in the UFC have been good victories, so people are talking about him as being the next contender. Obviously for myself, I am taking this one fight at a time. If I beat Luke, when I beat Luke, I think that puts me in a very very good position. Of course, there is some other very good talent making a case for a (title shot). Who knows? Fingers crossed. I get a good performance against Rockhold, I believe it puts me right in the mix. Does it guarantee me a title shot? Not necessarily.

I've gotten to the top of the sport and then I fell short, but I think the fact that I've been there so many times is a testament to my fighting ability, my character, and my will to win, which says a lot for a guy who apparently doesn't like to fight. I've been there several times. Most people only get there once. I've dusted myself off, I've come back a better fighter. I've truly learned from all my losses and I'm still as hungry as the first day that I ever put a pair of gloves on. I still want to be world champion, I know I can do it. I'm physically in my prime, and I'm mentally better than ever. I still dream of being world champion, and that all starts next weekend. I'm one of the top guys, I've been here for a long time, but I am not going anywhere yet.

Rockhold: He said it pretty well. For me, on my end, I need to go out there and win. I need to win impressively to really step my game up and separate me as the No. 1 contender and that's what I plan on doing. I can't go squeak a win out, I need to perform. It's not just about beating Bisping, it's about being the best fighter in the world.

This is a chance to showcase my skill set, and where I have improved. I already have a win over Jacare (Souza). So, I don't understand exactly how the rankings work. I am very happy fighting Michael, and I am going to go in there and perform.

Being overly emotional heading into this main event tilt:

Rockhold: I'm not really too emotional. You want to see emotional? Go watch my lead up to the Belfort fight. I was pissed, I was emotional, you could see it in my eyes. Now I am very comfortable and relaxed, and I will never let that happen again. I let emotions get the better of me, and I've worked my ass off in this training camp, worked with some of the best guys in the world, and I'm going to go out there and do my job.

Bisping: Perhaps in the past that's been my downfall, focusing on my opponent too much, thinking too much about them, obsessing over them, thinking about how they're going to approach the fight. I'm too long in the tooth to do that these days. I'm too experienced. I just focus on what I need to do. Certainly one area that I have made leaps and bounds in is the mental preparation.

Selling the fight, being competitive in trash-talking, and how their grudge match stacks up to others:

Rockhold: People love a genuine feud, and this is what they’re getting. I don’t like the guy, and I’m going to voice my opinion. I’m going to sell the fight. I’m a competitive person, whether we’re talking or fighting. I’m not going to lose at all to this guy. I’m selling the fight, he’s selling the fight, and the pre-fight hype is nothing compared to what you’re going to see on Nov. 8. No one can compare to what Jones and D.C. did, but I think we’re doing alright (laughs).

Bisping: For me it’s not a case of trying to outdo other fighters. Obviously, this is an intriguing middleweight match up, and it kind of sells itself. As Luke has told everybody, he doesn't like me, and so of course, he’s not at the top of my Christmas card list. There’s certainly no love lost between us. We’re both two highly skilled individuals that bring it.

Luke, for all the disdain he feels toward me, he’s a good fighter and he fights well. And so do I, so that has all the ingredients for a highly watchable fight. So that kind of sells itself. And of course, there’s all the bad blood going into it. I've been myself as usual. As he said, you probably can’t compare anything this year to Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. I mean, that’s the best pre-fight hype ever, but you still have a week left, so you never know. We’ll see what happens at the press conference next week.

That's a wrap!

For all the latest UFC Fight Night 55: "Rockhold vs. Bisping" news, information, updated fight card, and rumors click here.

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