After fifteen years, thirty-nine fights, and one world championship run, Michael “The Count” Bisping has decided to hang up his gloves and call it a career. A true pioneer of mixed martial arts in the United Kingdom, Bisping is a sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Famer, and these last few years of his career did nothing but solidify that.
From beating Anderson Silva, considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time, to knocking out Luke Rockhold in the very first round of their UFC Middleweight Championship fight, to avenging his worst ever loss against Dan Henderson, all the way to coming up short against Georges St-Pierre, refusing to tap out even when caught in a choke that’d make an anaconda jealous, and accepting a main event fight against Kelvin Gastelum in China just 21 days later, Bisping proved just how much of a warrior he was in the final stages of his career, and all while running his mouth to the moon and back.
Michael Bisping’s gift of gab has made him one of the more polarizing figures the UFC has ever seen, but it also made him a must-watch fighter. Whether you wanted him to back up the words coming out of his mouth or be knocked unconscious for them, you HAD to see what’d happen once he stepped into the octagon, and very rarely did his bouts disappoint. That’s the epitome of a fighter you want on your roster, and the epitome of a fighter England needed when “The Count” started to break through the ranks and come into the fold.
The former Middleweight Champion’s retirement comes at the hands of an eye injury sustained in his short-notice fight with Kelvin Gastelum back in November, where his good eye was damaged and he now sees flashes of light out of it whenever he looks left. I say “good eye” because his right eye was damaged badly in his 2013 fight with Vitor Belfort, where his retina was detached as he was knocked out, and has been talked about at length since it happened. Hell, you can’t look at the guy without seeing the effects of it, as he never got corrective surgery for fear it’d become detached once again. With another eye now not operating at 100%, Bisping decided enough was enough.
“It ain’t worth it,” Bisping said. “What else am I gonna do? I won the belt, I’ve had tons of wins, I’ve done everything that I set out to do. Fortunately now, I’ve used my platform to open other doors.”
For me, the greatest Michael Bisping moment will always be his knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 on June 4th, 2016. I was already a big fan of his leading into the fight, and a big Rockhold hater as well, but didn’t expect to see what played out in the slightest. I’ll admit, when both fighters made the walk to the cage I had a weird feeling in my stomach, the same one I had while watching UFC 193 and 196, but never in a million years thought I’d see Bisping knock Rockhold out with ease…but he did. He sure did.
Mike Goldberg’s call of that will send chills down my spine each and every time I hear it.
Congrats on the phenomenal career, Michael Bisping, and thank you for all you’ve given to the sport.