The respected and highly-knowledgable fight-analyst Dan Hardy gave his pick for a suitable matchup for Michael Bisping’s retirement-fight and all things considered, it’s probably the best option out there.
Reaping the rewards at the highest levels of a game of inches like MMA always comes with an immeasurably high risk along with it. We’ve seen it on countless occasions before and regardless of how accomplished you are, how level-headed you remain and how perfect a gameplan it is that you have constructed, split-second mistakes can always cost you in the most brutal of fashions.
And though the harsh defeat that Michael Bisping suffered today at the hands of the rising-Kelvin Gastelum wasn’t exactly the most clear-cut example of a mistake being capitalized on we’ve seen, ‘the Count’ knew full well about the risk he was taking in accepting such a dangerous opponent so soon after being stopped in similarly violent fashion just three weeks.
UFC Shanghai’s main-event lasted for just half a round, with both men having some early success, but when Kelvin connected on the Brit’s chin with a swift one-two, our worst fears about the former-champ’s quick turn-around were confirmed and in this instance, the risk that he took after saving the night’s main event turned out to be one that held devastating consequences for him.
After losing out to Chris Weidman in his last outing, a win of this magnitude will do wonders for the title-aspirations of the 26-year-old Gastelum, who – as commentator Dan Hardy pointed out – despite going (2-1, 1 NC) at 185lbs, has managed to drop every single one of his opponents to date with his hands, a testament to his formidable power at his new weight-class.
It was supposed to be something of a fairy-tale return to form for Michael Bisping, but now, with him having spoken of his intention to retire at the UFC’s next stop in his home-country of England in March, speculation has already begun over who exactly it is he should face in what will be his final octagon appearance.
Hardy actually spoke during the show’s post-fight comments about a matchup that would make perfect sense for both fighters at this stage of their respective careers and at the same, seemed thankful for the fact that this loss – although a tough one to digest – will allow him to avoid a matchup with the likes of Yoel Romero, Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold or Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
“It’s been an interesting week. Obviously it was a short-notice fight, he’s really enjoyed this process but he’s not been the switched-on Michael Bisping I normally see. I don’t know whether he was taking Kelvin lightly maybe but the silver lining in this one is that I think he’s going to fight in London.
“I think he wants that farewell fight for the British fans and the difference here is that he’s not going to get a top-5 opponent. If he’d have knocked out Kelvin Gastelum here tonight you’re looking at a Luke Rockhold, a Yoel Romero, a Jacare or something like that.
“Now it means he can look a bit further down the rankings. The fight that I’m campaigning for, I want to see him fight Lyoto Machida. That is the fight to make for Bisping. I think it would be a great one, a great farewell to Michael Bisping and I think it will be a good fight for him to show what we’ve known him for for so long, his excellent striking skills.
Machida’s last outing saw him be on the receiving end of a brutal first-round loss to the powerhouse Derek Brunson and when you think about, his name is one that carries more than enough weight to get Bisping fired up. His last few contests have seen him take on Georges St-Pierre, Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva, so to add the name of a revered former-light-heavyweight champion to his resumé before bowing out would make for one helluva spectacle and a fitting end to what has been a consistently great career.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena