Thursday, June 23, 2022

Bisping: I Did Not Dodge Top Contenders During My Title Reign

Michael Bisping is adamant that he did not duck the top contenders during his UFC middleweight title reign.

At UFC 199, Michael Bisping pulled off one of the biggest upsets in title-fight history when he knocked off Luke Rockhold on short notice to become the new UFC middleweight champion. This would mark the beginning of one of the most unusual championship reigns in company history.

The reign lasted 16 months with two title defenses, and neither defense came against a top-10 opponent.

UFC 204: Michael Bisping recovers from Dan Henderson's 'H-Bomb' to retain  his UFC title after five-round thriller
Credit: Getty Images

First, Bisping took on Dan Henderson in a rematch of their 2009 clash that saw Henderson turn in one of the most memorable knockouts of all time. Bisping would then defeat Henderson via unanimous decision at UFC 204 to earn his redemption.

And who can forget the final bout of GOAT candidate Georges St-Pierre, who returned after four years of retirement to challenge Bisping for the title fight? St-Pierre would go on to defeat Bisping and join the UFC’s selective double-champion’s club consisting of fighters that won world titles in multiple weight classes.

During Bisping’s reign, names like Robert Whittaker, Jacare Souza, and Yoel Romero were in line to face Bisping at one point or another. The main reason none of those fights came together was bad timing, including Bisping dealing with lingering health issues.

Despite the health issues, Bisping was willing to put off medical procedures if it meant fighting big names like Nick Diaz or, as was eventually the case, Georges St-Pierre. This led to Bisping coming under some criticism at the time, and even a United States Congressman questioned a company official about the legitimacy of the UFC as a sport, using Bisping’s championship reign as an example.

Bisping: “I Never Turned Anybody Down”

Michael Bisping
Image Credit: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

During a recent post on his YouTube channel, Bisping defended UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira’s calls for money fights against Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.

“The Count” believes Islam Makhachev is off base for referring to Oliveira as a coward for these callouts because mixed martial artists are ultimately prize fighters, and he used himself and his 2016-2017 title reign as an example.

“Listen, I was champion of the world for a period of time. And when I was there, I was supposed to fight Robert Whittaker, but he got injured. I was then supposed to fight Yoel Romero, but I got injured. I had to have surgery on my left knee. Of course, ultimately, I had to have that knee replaced.

“But in the meantime, a fight with Georges St-Pierre materialized. Georges St-Pierre, one of the biggest box-office smashes that the UFC had ever saw, he wanted to come out of retirement, come up to 185 because I presented a new challenge for him. And the cheeky bugger probably thought he could beat me as well, which, as we know, he did. So I took that fight against Georges, and it was a great fight.

UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre - Los Angeles Times
Georges St-Pierre vs. Michae Bisping, UFC 217

“But more importantly, I made a lot of money. It was, by far, the biggest payday of my career. Now I wasn’t dodging anyone. No, I was taking on all comers. I was fighting whoever the UFC put in front of me. And that’s what I did all the time. I never turned anybody down. But when Georges St-Pierre came about, yes, I wanted that fight! Of course, I did.

“Number 1, thought I could beat him. But secondly, no offense to Robert or Yoel, they weren’t big pay-per-view stars. Georges St-Pierre was. He was huge. And him coming back was a massive storyline, and we sold almost a million pay-per-view buys. Robert and Yoel, I think they did like 200,000, so there you go.”

Michael Bisping now works as a color commentator during UFC broadcasts and also has his own podcast and YouTube channel where he shares his insight on various hot topics happening across the sport of MMA. Bisping’s final bout came three weeks after his loss to St-Pierre, where he lost to Kelvin Gastelum via KO.

Everything ultimately worked out for Robert Whittaker, who went on to become the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza, who both exited the UFC without ever capturing company gold.

What do you think about Michael Bisping’s reflections on his UFC title reign?

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