The former-middleweight champion of the world has apparently found a willing dance-partner as he edges closer to making his final appearance inside the UFC octagon.
At first, it seemed as though it could have been Vitor Belfort. Then, whispers of a showdown with Rashad Evans came to the fore. But for Michael Bisping, it really does seem as though he has finally found a fighter that he is willing to take on in what will surely be his final venture into the world of professional MMA.
2016, in the eyes of many, was the ‘Year of Michael Bisping’ after he coupled his victories over both Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson with his stunning UFC 199 KO of the heavily-favoured then-champ Luke Rockhold. That upset managed to earn him his first taste of UFC gold and while his title-reign was amongst the most divisive and controversial in the sport’s history, it managed to begin and end with a bang.
UFC 217 will forever be amongst the most incredible spectacles the UFC has ever put on, and while the duo of title-changes that came in the first two of the night’s three headlining bouts deserve credit, it was the triumphant return of the legendary Georges St-Pierre that stole the headlines.
Unfortunately for the Bisping, he was on the receiving end of what amounted to a pretty brutal finish at the hands of GSP.
Then, when he decided to save the seemingly doomed trip the UFC was taking to Shanghai, China by signing to fight Kelvin Gastelum just three weeks after losing at UFC 217, fate managed to serve Bisping poorly once again and he was knocked out in a perhaps ever more vicious fashion by the former-Ultimate Fighter winner in the very first round.
Now, with his retirement apparently imminent, Bisping has responded to the recent call-out the former-205lb champ Lyoto Machida made of him at last weekend’s UFC Belem.
Machida managed to emerge victorious after a tightly-contested split-decision against Eryk Anders and with him too approaching the end of his career, it would be a fitting matchup for both guys given their respective statuses within the sport.
Speaking on his popular podcast Believe You Me, Bisping had this to say on the prospect of facing Machida:
“I’ve no problem with the decision, but what I do have a problem with is what Machida said afterwards. I’m only joking, I don’t really have a problem with it, he called me out once again.
“He just said we were supposed to fight a couple of times over the years and that it hadn’t happened and that basically he had a lot of respect for me. I’ve got a lot of respect for Machida, I really do.
“As I said on Saturday, he’s one of the true martial arts specialist and one of the true martial artists that competes in the Octagon, so I have respect for him. Of course, there was the whole steroid issue, so I don’t want to rehash Saturday’s show, but there’s always going to be an asterisk over him.”
“He’s had a great career and it ticks all the boxes from that standpoint. That’s about it. As of right now I’ve got to speak to the UFC and find out what’s going on for myself. I’m not considering opponents or who they are. I’ve got to speak to Dana and the UFC guys and figure out what’s going on next and in life.”
“God bless Machida. Thanks for the call out, we will see what the future holds.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena