Michael Bisping‘s dream scenario is in the offing, but will he take it? That’s what we’re all waiting to find out.
Bisping reached the pinnacle of his mixed martial arts when he was a late-notice replacement to face Luke Rockhold for the UFC middleweight championship in 2016. He made the most of his opportunity at UFC 199, knocking Rockhold out in the first round and taking the belt from around his waist.
He was heavily criticized for what came next, but it’s difficult to blame Bisping for taking high profile fights with Dan Henderson, who lost to Bisping in his retirement bout at UFC 204, and a blockbuster bout with returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, though he lost the belt to St-Pierre.
Bisping tried to make a quick rebound as a late replacement for Anderson Silva in a UFC Fight Night headlining bout opposite Kelvin Gastelum. That fight didn’t go so well, as Gastelum knocked Bisping out midway through the opening round.
Of course, Bisping would like to get that one back before calling it a career, and he has the opportunity to do so, as matchmakers have offered him a fight which would ostensibly headline UFC London in March.
“There’s a fight in the works for myself, and I’ve got until the end of the day to tell the UFC whether or not I’m taking it,” Bisping said on the edition of his “Believe You Me” podcast. “There’s an offer that’s been made to me, and all fairness to the UFC, I’ve been kind of taking my time to give them an answer, so I’ve got until the end of the day to give them an answer.”
He would not divulge whom the opponent might be, although he has been adamant that he wouldn’t take a rematch with Vitor Belfort, who had been trying to goad Bisping into a dual-retirement bout. Bisping doesn’t want that fight and had already declined it, according to Belfort, so it’s likely that someone else is in the offing, as Bisping said he likes the match-up that has been put before him.
“I’m just debating whether or not I take the fight. For me, whether or not most people can see, I have a bad eye. I have a bad eye and my wife doesn’t want me to continue fighting. My manager doesn’t want me to continue fighting,” Bisping explained. “My wife and manager and friends and people close to me say, ‘Mike, what do you want to do that for? You’ve done it. You’ve had the belt.’ I’ve done it. I’ve done what I set out to achieve.
“I kind of want to go do one last fight in England and they’re like, ‘So what? Five years from now, or even a year from now, people are going to forget about all that and you can injure yourself even more.’ But you can injure yourself in any fight, whether or not you’re at 100-percent health or not. So that’s what we’re up to and I don’t know.”
It’s been a difficult decision for Bisping. He’s known for a while that he was about done and has been promising his wife he would stop fighting, but like any athlete, he’s finding it difficult to walk away without going out on his own terms.
He lost the belt to St-Pierre, which was still a solid performance on a blockbuster fight card, but followed with the disastrous fight with Gastelum. No fighter wants to be remembered for being knocked out, but Bisping has to weigh all the factors.
“There’s a payday. I’ve got some lawsuit bulls–t that’s still going on. Lawyers are very expensive,” he admitted. “One doesn’t want to go out on the last fight (with Gastelum) being the lasting impression on my MMA career. Also, I feel I owe it to the U.K. fans because they were so supportive throughout my career and I always envisioned, in my mind, having that retirement fight in London and there it is. It’s on a plate. I just need to take it.
“I like the fight. It’s not a case of the time or the opponent or anything like that. It’s either am I going to continue fighting or am I not? I promised my wife a long time ago that I was done fighting, promised a ton of people, but I still seem to be slogging on and doing it.”