When former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping announced his retirement late last month, he closed the door on a number of exciting potential matchups. There’s the fight between Bisping and his rival Yoel Romero, which we never got to see. There’s the much discussed trilogy fight between Bisping and Luke Rockhold, who are tied 1-1 across to fights. There are other fights between Bisping and stars like Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza. And then, of course, there’s the potential fight between Bisping and the reigning UFC middleweight king, Robert Whittaker.
Bisping and Whittaker looked destined to collide at several points throughout their respective careers. They were, of course, briefly scheduled to fight at UFC 193, until Bisping was forced out of the matchup an injury. Then, there was the short period during which Bisping was the undisputed middleweight champion and Whittaker was interim champion, when they also seemed to be on a collision course.
In the end, however, Whittaker and Bisping never crossed paths. In the opinion of Whittaker, that’s just fine. In fact, it’s a good thing, because he’s a big Bisping fan.
“I think he’s a true warrior. I really do. He’s done it all. He’s lost, he’s won, and he’s become champion. He’s a true test of endurance and determination. I really do, I think a lot of people can learn a thing or two watching his career,” Whittaker said last week on the UFC 225 media conference call (via MMA Fighting).
“In terms of fighting him, from one fighter to another, there’s a lot of respect in terms of wanting to fight each other,” he said. “There would’ve been a lot of respect there and a lot of honor earned, but I’m happy not to have fought him, just due to the fact that I’ve always watched him and, if I’m going to be honest with myself, I’m a bit of a fan of his, to be honest.”
Robert Whittaker will next step into the cage this weekend, when he will attempt to defend his title opposite Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 225.