When Georges St-Pierre defeated Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion, it was a moment that not only proved GSP to be one of the greatest of all-time, but it also proved that The Count is one of the toughest men in all of mixed martial arts.
He went out on his shield by refusing to tap when placed in a tricky situation, and following the fight, he was hailed for his services to the sport. Many expected him to retire, but the man himself knew deep in his heart that he didn’t want to go out like that.
“My wife and some of my family wanted me to retire a while ago. That doesn’t mean I’m not hungry or applying myself in the gym, I train just as hard as I used to. I’ve got a lot of things going on outside of the octagon, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in this sport. I became champion, I defended the belt, and you can’t do it forever.”
So whilst many of us were waiting for the UFC to confirm that Michael would be main eventing the upcoming March show in London, the Englishman was busy preparing to step in as a last-minute replacement to face Kelvin Gastelum in Shanghai.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) November 13, 2017
Yup. In a truly bizarre turn of events, the former champ has stepped up to the plate in the wake of Anderson Silva’s failed drugs test and will now be battling the 26-year-old on the other side of the planet just THREE weeks after main eventing UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden.
“Obviously I’m a fan of the UFC and I watch all the fights, and I’m an analyst aswell. Kelvin is someone I’ve noticed. He’s won The Ultimate Fighter and he’s done great things. Of course he struggled making weight at welterweight, came up to middleweight and he looked even better.”
That’s a lot to unpackage, and thankfully, we were able to speak with Bisping himself on a recent conference call in order to pick his brain regarding this short notice fight.
We didn’t talk about anything other than what mattered – his return to the octagon. You see, everyone knows that Mike is a tough guy, but his personality has really been able to shine through in the last few days now that the world is starting to recognise his greatness in this sport.
“To be honest, when I was champion, he’s not someone that I thought I’d be fighting anytime soon. Far from it. But he was making a lot of noise, and here we are. I’m excited to get out to China, I’ve got fond memories of fighting there, I beat the piss out of Cung Le out there who has a lot of similarities.”
He is humble, he is a down to earth guy, and he truly is one of the best ambassadors that the UFC has at their disposal right now. That’s quite the trifecta, and he can afford to let his hair down with recent rumours suggesting that the NYC event at the start of the month has far exceeded even Dana White’s wildest dreams in turns of pay per view buys.
Whilst the story rightly should be that Michael Bisping is a warrior, a lot of fans will also find themselves worrying about his safety given that he was initially given a medical suspension. That’s a fair way of looking at it, but if we’ve learned anything over the course of the last decade, it’s to ensure that we never count this man out.