Still, a lot awaits him in retirement: his family, an MMA analyst gig and more. The UFC Hall of Fame could and should be the next destination for “The Count.”
He finished his career with an MMA record of 30-9, and a UFC record of 20-9. And at the end of the day, Bisping defied the odds and became the middleweight champion of the sport’s most prominent organization.
It may have taken 25 UFC bouts before he got a title shot, but the Brit made the most of it. Then-champion Luke Rockhold was originally slated to defend his title in a rematch with former champion Chris Weidman at UFC 199. An injury forced “The All American” out of the title fight, but the show would go on. Bisping stepped in to face Rockhold on 17 days’ notice.
Many fans thought Rockhold would be settling in for the first title defense of a long reign; he was coming off a TKO win over the previously undefeated Weidman and looked to be in the best form of his career. The former Strikeforce champion had a submission victory over Bisping to boot.
The two verbally squared off in a pre-fight press conference prior to the rematch, which led to several great quotes. (“Conceive, believe, achieve…shut the f*ck up!”). But then it came time to fight.
Rockhold entered the bout as a -600 favorite over the No. 4-ranked Bisping. None of that mattered after a three-minute feeling out process. Bisping landed a left hook that dropped the champion. Right as Rockhold managed to stand up, Bisping landed a follow-up left hook that dropped Rockhold again. A few shots later, and Bisping put Rockhold out to win the belt via first-round KO.
Very few believed Bisping would ever become a UFC champion, but he managed to add the ultimate notch on his Hall of Fame-hopeful resume.
The Title Run
Bisping admitted on his podcast that he likely would have retired had he not defeated Rockhold. However, since he won, the prospect of earning champion money was too much to pass up.
Many scratched their heads, though, when it was announced that Bisping’s first title defense would be against Dan Henderson. “Hendo” was ranked No. 13 in the middleweight division at the time. Many believed the shot should have gone to someone more deserving, like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Yoel Romero, Weidman, or even Rockhold for an immediate rematch and trilogy fight.
The UFC offered Bisping the Henderson fight, and he took it. The Brit argued that the loss to Henderson was one he’s wanted to avenge for a long time. Henderson brutally knocked Bisping out at UFC 100 in one of the greatest KO’s in UFC history. And when the UFC gave Bisping the opportunity for revenge, he took it.
Although Bisping didn’t get the knockout he wanted, he took a hard-fought unanimous decision victory. It was controversial in the manner that Henderson landed the harder shots and came close to ending the fight on two occasions, but Bisping edged out three rounds.
Bisping then took on Georges St-Pierre, the arguable Greatest of All-Time, in his next title defense at UFC 217. More criticism was leveled at Bisping for not taking a bout with a middleweight contender, but the fight with GSP stood to be the most financially lucrative of “The Count’s” career. And with a family to look after and not many fights left, he took it.
St-Pierre won the bout via technical submission, ending Bisping’s run as UFC champion and setting forward the beginning of the end of his storied career.
The End of a Career
Three weeks after his loss to St-Pierre, Bisping stepped up once again on short notice. This time, he fought Kelvin Gastelum in a bid to rebound from his loss. Unfortunately for Bisping, it didn’t go as planned. Gastelum dropped Bisping and put him out for the biggest win of his career. For Bisping, the bout would prove to be his last.
Bisping then went on to be called out by the likes of Lyoto Machida, Brad Tavares and more for half a year. He himself wasn’t sure if he wanted a retirement fight. In the end, he decided to call it a career.
“I mean, what else am I going to do? I’ve won the belt, I’ve had tons of wins, I’ve done everything I set out to achieve,” Bisping said on his podcast. “What’s the point in flogging a dead horse? Not that I’m a dead horse, but what’s the point? I’ve done everything that I set out to achieve, and fortunately now I’ve used my platform to open other doors. You know, you’ve got to know when to walk away. I’m almost 40 years old, the time is now.”
Hall of Fame?
All that’s left now is for Bisping’s rightful induction into the UFC Hall of Fame. He owns several accomplishments at the time of his retirement:
- UFC middleweight champion
- One successful title defense
- The Ultimate Fighter: Season 3 Light Heavyweight winner
- Five-time “Fight of the Night” bonus winner
- Two-time “Performance of the Night” bonus winner (“50 G’s, baby. Thanks, Luke!”)
He also holds several records:
- Most fights in UFC history (29)
- Most wins in UFC history (20; tied with Georges St-Pierre and Donald Cerrone)
- Most wins in UFC middleweight division history (16)
- Most significant strikes landed (1,567)
- 2nd in total UFC fight-time (6:05:33; behind Frankie Edgar)
Let’s also take a look at a few of the biggest victories on Bisping’s resume from a name standpoint:
- Luke Rockhold
- Anderson Silva
- Dan Henderson
Even Bisping’s defeats have only come to top-flight competition, some of whom were on performance enhancing drugs.
Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen all hold victories over Bisping, but their careers hold question marks due to TRT usage. Wanderlei Silva himself was involved in a drug scandal, and he holds a win over Bisping as well.
There’s no telling how much more impressive Bisping’s career could have looked had he fought those four on an even playing field. If you take a scalpel to his record, Bisping would have been 30-5 without those four losses. He also would’ve been on a 16-1 run heading into the last two losses of his career.
We’ll never quite know how clean fights between Bisping and those four would have gone, but one thing is for certain: he deserves his spot in the UFC Hall of Fame.
When you take into account his accomplishments, world title wins and decade of service to the UFC, it should be an easy decision, buddeh.
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