Maybe because he means it, or maybe because he wants to make the most of his best shot at pay-per-view riches, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping has started talking about retiring.
“This might be my last-ever fight,” Bisping said on “The MMA Hour” on Monday. “I don’t know if I’ll fight again after this. What a way to go out if it is. … I don’t know (if I’ll retire). Maybe, there’s a possibility. This may be my last fight. So if everyone wants to see Michael Bisping get knocked out, this is your last chance to do it, guys.”
Clearly, there’s at least a little bit of salesmanship going on there. Bisping is teasing us, hinting that MMA’s favorite villain might take his money and go home soon, so you’d better pony up some cash for your last chance to revel in his failure.
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But retirement is also a very real possibility for Bisping, 38, maybe even more so in victory than defeat. If he loses, it’s a blow to the ego and his legacy. It’s a final taunt that he almost has to answer, lest he let his haters have the last laugh.
A win, however, let’s him ride off into the sunset with a big sack of money in one hand and the UFC middleweight strap in the other. He gets to say that he beat Anderson Silva and GSP, two of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, and had the good sense to get out while he was still technically on top. Then it’s Bisping with the last word, and we all know how much he’d enjoy that.
But it’s worth asking what we’d make of Bisping’s (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) career if it ended with this type of best-case scenario. While a win over St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) is always going to mean something, it would also be a win over a welterweight coming off a four-year vacation.
And since his only other title defense came against a nearly fossilized version of Dan Henderson, who was nowhere near the top of the division at the time, it would mean that Bisping might end his UFC middleweight title reign without ever fighting any actual UFC middleweight title contenders.
I guess it’s good work if you can get it. It might even be borderline genius, in the diabolical sense. But it would have the effect of making his retirement seem more like an escape than a victory march.
It’s especially tricky because the UFC’s middleweight class is more interesting than it’s been in years, thanks to fighters like interim champ Robert Whitaker, along with Yoel Romero, Luke Rockhold even Ronaldo Souza.
Bisping has engaged in public shouting matches against a few of those guys, but only fought one of them (Rockhold), losing one and then winning the next. If he were to retire without defending his belt against any of them, it might feel a little like if Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson and then spent what was left of his career avoiding Evander Holyfield in favor of formerly great light heavyweights and senior citizens.
Which is not to say that he’s under any obligation to fight any of those murderers, or that retirement wouldn’t make sense for Bisping. If anyone’s earned a gold watch and a rocking chair for his devoted service to the UFC, it’s him. Plus, he’ll be 39 in February and his path to the title went through one bloody war after another, all of which reshaped his face and possibly his life.
He’s already got some money and a broadcasting gig. Win or lose against GSP, he’ll probably pocket more for that one night than most UFC fighters make in a career. But if he bails without ever defending his title against one of the many qualified candidates in line for a shot, how can it not be part of the legacy we’ll remember him by?
There’ll be other aspects to that legacy, of course. Bisping, the master of feuds. Bisping, the magnet for boos. Bisping, the fighter who was better than he ever got credit for. Bisping, the man who only became champ when the drug testing improved.
How the title reign chapter of his story is remembered, that’s yet to be determined. But at least for now he’s still in a position to write his own ending, whether it satisfies the rest of us or not.view original article >>