A quick and brutal defeat at the heavy, cultured hands of Kelvin Gastelum isn’t about to rush Michael Bisping into retirement, even if it did come just three weeks after he was choked unconscious by Georges St-Pierre at the end of a fairly one-sided beating in New York.
“It’s going to take a bigger pile of shit to get rid of me,” a defiant Bisping said on Saturday in Shanghai, just moments after Gastelum consigned him to back-to-back defeats for the first time in his illustrious 13-year pro run.
Bisping’s stubbornness is due to the fact that the UFC have announced a show in London for next March, thus presenting ‘The Count’ with a chance to author a far more fitting, fairy tale ending to his career on home soil. After his loss to St-Pierre, Bisping admitted that he was eyeing the event for a retirement bout and though he went off on a sudden tangent – accepting the Gastelum bout on short notice – it looks as though this is still the Englishman’s plan for the end of his personal story.
One noted MMA observer, however, is of the opinion that it would be “crazy” for Bisping to fight again in March.
Though Bisping exercised free will and it was his own decision to take the bout, the fighter was spared criticism after he was starched by Gastelum. Instead, he was commended for the courage and fighting spirit he displayed by signing on the dotted line in the first placec. The UFC, on the other hand, understandably came in for serious criticism for allowing the 38-year-old to compete so soon after the loss to St-Pierre.
Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan is among those who feel that Bisping shouldn’t have been in the octagon in Shanghai on Saturday.
“I don’t think you should be allowed to fight three weeks after you have a brutal fight like Michael Bisping did with GSP,” Rogan said on his new JRE MMA Show Podcast. “He got rocked, he got choked unconscious, and then three weeks later, he’s fighting a really dangerous young and up-and-coming Kelvin Gastelum(via MMAFighting).”
“You really have to protect the fighter from themselves. You really can’t be letting a guy fight three weeks after an absolutely brutal fight like that. It just does not make sense. It does not make sense. I don’t think it’s smart.”
“I understand the UFC needed someone to fill in on short notice because Anderson Silva tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and they did not want to lose the Shanghai main event, so it turns into an even bigger fight when you’ve got the former middleweight champion right off his loss, three weeks later fighting again, but it’s just not smart. I know Bisping wanted to do it, and I know Bisping would probably do it again if you asked him to do it. If you asked Bisping to fight in a few weeks, he would probably do it again.”
Bisping will have time to rest up some before March, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be a lengthy period of down time. ‘The Count’, who will be 39 by the time UFC London rolls around, will need to be back in camp early in the new year if he wants to be in suitable shape for his last hurrah.
Speaking to the media last week, Bisping estimated that over the course of an eight week camp he does 24 sparring sessions. “And those sparring sessions get pretty hard,” he added. Ahead of the St-Pierre fight, Bisping had a camp of about this length, then he was involved in a rough, hard contest with the Canadian legend during which he took plenty of leather before being put to sleep with a rear-naked choke. He took a week off and then jumped back into camp, albeit for a very short period. Still, according to Bisping, he sparred everyday in the week before UFC Shanghai fight week. Then he got knocked cold by Gastelum. That’s a lot of cumulative damage over the course of an eleven or twelve week period, especially for an older fighter who has already had a long, taxing, often brutal career, and six or seven weeks recovery just doesn’t seem adequate.
“Someone was talking about him fighting in England, I believe in March,” Rogan said. “Boy, that’s less crazy, but still, crazy because we’re basically into December. So you’ve got December, January, February, three months off, really, and then March. But during that time he’s going to be sparring and you know Bisping, he’s a f**king animal. He’s not gonna take much time off.”
“Fighters need time off after fights.”
If Bisping wants to go out on a winning note, it might be best for him to spend a little longer on the shelf. British fans might be left disappointed if he isn’t added to the card and maybe business will even be down as a result, but the veteran has given those fans plenty over the years and, after what happened when Bisping stepped in to save the show like a company man at the weekend, it might be smart for the UFC to err on the side of caution in spite of business concerns.