When Robert Whittaker won the UFC interim middleweight title this past July a unification showdown with undisputed champion Michael Bisping appeared imminent.
Not long after Dana White strapped the title around Whittaker’s waist, Bisping appeared inside the octagon and proceeded to let Whittaker know that he was in fact the true champion.
Fight fans from Australia and New Zealand were left salivating at the thought of the match up. Whittaker however injured himself in his win and the UFC decided that Bisping would defend his title against returning welterweight Georges St-Pierre next.
Speaking recently with Ariel Helwani, Bisping stated that he may well hang up the gloves after his fight with GSP, leaving a potential showdown with Whittaker uncertain.
“I think the career I’ve had, the years I’ve been in the UFC, the injuries I’ve had, the ups and downs, getting close to title fights and all of this, there’s a possibility – this might be my last ever fight. I don’t know if I’ll fight again after this. So, what a way to go out if it is,” Bisping stated on The MMA Hour.
At 38, Bisping is certainly at the tail end of his UFC career that has stretched over 10 years. After winning the UFC middleweight title by defeating Luke Rockhold and then defending the title against Dan Henderson, Bisping admits that defeating GSP at Madison Square Garden may be the best way to go out on top. He also points out to the success he is having outside the octagon as a key reason he believes it may be time to walk away.
“Next year I’ve got three acting projects lined up that are all big – three big movies and a Netflix series. I’ve got things going on outside the Octagon and I’ve got money that I can earn outside of the Octagon. Ultimately, we do this for the money. You’re doing this right now because you want to earn money. I fight in the UFC because I want to earn money.” Bisping told Helwani.
“If there’s enough money involved, maybe I’ll stick around. But as of right now, I don’t know. My family wants me to retire. My wife wants me to retire. There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Mike, you should retire.’ My manager says it. So everyone’s in my ear saying, ‘Mike, you should retire, you should retire as champion.’
“And if I can earn money outside of the Octagon that’s just as good, that I don’t have to risk my health for, then it makes sense, and I can retire as the champion and parlay that into an active, successful career outside of the Octagon. And retiring a champion helps that. Retiring after you struggle through a ton of losses, and you once were champion and then you get seven shades of shit knocked out of you, you’re still making a payday – I’ve done myself an injustice there.”
If Bisping were to defeat GSP then retire, it would mean Whittaker would likely become the undisputed champion without stepping foot inside the octagon. But a lot hinges on how he feels after his next contest with Bisping admitting more recently on his “Believe You Me” podcast that he would like his last fight to take place in his hometown.
“I’m kind of torn. I’m going to retire soon and it’s either going to be the GSP fight or….and me and my wife kind of agrees…I want my last fight to be in Manchester [England],” Bisping said. “So there’s a possibility this is going to be my last one or my last one will be my next one against Robert Whittaker in Manchester.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding Bisping’s future, it remains to be seen whether Whittaker will have the opportunity to beat him for the undisputed title. A lot is likely to centre on how the GSP fight plays out.
Only time will tell.