A perfect showman in the fight business toes the line between entertainment and reality. For the last 14 years, Michael Bisping, a former UFC champion and future Hall of Famer, has been as infallible as the world’s greatest trapezist, and yet, respect will be equally as hard to come by in retirement as it was when he was the top middleweight fighter in the world.
This is the end for Bisping.
It’s the end of hotels and long-winded world press tours. It’s the end of grueling fight camps and putting his long-term health at risk. Most importantly, it’s the end of bright lights, jam-packed arenas and headlining UFC fight cards.
“So obviously I’ve teased this for a long time now. I might fight again, I might not,” said Bisping, when speaking on his “Believe You Me” podcast show. “And unfortunately it’s not a fight that I’m announcing. I am going to announce my official retirement from mixed martial arts.”
Being a world-class showman comes easy when you’re the most honest person in the room, and few have been as honest as Bisping with a microphone in his hands.
The 39-year-old fighter was as brash and self-assured as anyone to ever step foot in the octagon. His tongue was sharp enough to pierce the skin of even the coolest and most collected fighters, but none of the trash talk and pre-fight banter ever felt manufactured whenever he spoke.
One of his most admirable traits is the fact that he has remained true to his personality ever since winning The Ultimate Fighter 3 and ascending to UFC superstardom. He didn’t win a few fights, catch a little wind in his sails and act out of character to push his name to the top of the fight ticket.
What you saw was always what you got from Bisping.
— UFC (@ufc) May 30, 2018
What most don’t realize is how accomplished he was as a fighter.
Along with being the UK’s first UFC champion, he is tied with Georges St-Pierre and Donald Cerrone for the most wins in UFC history with 20.
Over 75 percent of his fights have been contested in a main or co-main event spot on a UFC fight card, and per MMAjunkie.com, his 14 main event appearances are tied for fourth behind Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz. All of that goes without saying he has more middleweight bouts(24) and wins(16) than any other fighter in the company’s history.
Bisping no longer has to ask for respect. He’s earned it.
For hardcore fans, he will be remembered as the fighter that always walked to the beat of his own drum, which was likely some rendition of Blur’s ‘Song 2’. He paved the way for fighters that weren’t necessarily blessed with God-given talent to chase their dreams.
No one ever thought the hard-nosed teenager out of Manchester would go from bare-knuckled brawls to upending Luke Rockhold in a UFC title fight. Even as Bisping settled into a long UFC career, there were more doubters than believers in his chances of ever standing on the mountaintop.
Then a pair of powerful, abstract forces, time and opportunity, became his guiding light in proving the fight world wrong.
Everything he’s done helped mold him into the legend he is today: The decision to try out for The Ultimate Fighter during the great MMA boon; the fortitude to continue competing, despite previous setbacks and a career-threatening eye injury; the unwavering self-belief to step in for an injured Chris Weidman and face Rockhold for the UFC title on 17 days’ notice; and the decision to walk away from fighting on his own terms.
Those indelible moments bookend the fighting chapter of one of the most underappreciated fighters MMA has ever known.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/30/2018.This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM