It looks like we haven’t seen the last of “The Count” just yet.
In the lead-up to his upcoming title defense against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, middleweight champion Michael Bisping has mentioned the possibility that his next fight could be his last, but he sang a different tune on a media call Thursday after he was asked if a retirement bout in his home country of England was also under consideration.
“I did say in the buildup that this could be my last fight,” Bisping said. “My wife and some people close to me - you know I’ve done this forever. I’ve been a fighter ever since I was a kid, I’ve been involved with martial arts and professional combat sports my entire life and I’m almost 40 now. You can’t do it forever and I am the champ so I’ve accomplished what I want to accomplish.
“That said though, I’ve enjoyed this training camp. I’ve enjoyed the process. I’ve enjoyed being a little bit out of shape and now going to the peak of physical fitness. It’s a great process. It feels good knocking people out in sparring. I live for this s**t. So yeah, there will definitely be at least one more fight and who knows? Maybe more after that. I don’t know though.”
Bisping reached the pinnacle of his profession at UFC 199 last year when he pulled off a massive upset by knocking out Luke Rockhold inside of a round to capture the middleweight title. He went on to successfully defend it against Dan Henderson last October before taking a lengthy break from competition.
His UFC 217 opponent St-Pierre is also returning from a hiatus, though one that is closing on on four years. Bisping used talk of his own potential retirement to take a jab at “GSP”.
“Georges should have stayed retired, he would have forever been a legend but he didn’t, he f**ked it up,” Bisping said. “He’s come out of retirement and he’s fallen into the trap that everyone falls into: He thinks he can beat me.”
However many fights Bisping has left, there’s no questioning that he has a list of milestones that will be tough for any martial artist to top. If he beats St-Pierre, he’ll extend the record for most wins inside the Octagon (St-Pierre is one of the fighters currently behind him with 19), and he will be the only man to hold victories over St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, two legends of the sport.
Bisping is hesitant to reminisce given that he has arguably the biggest fight of his career on the horizon, but he took a moment to acknowledge that he was proud of the mark he’s left on his corner of the MMA world.
“I don’t really try and think about those things too much, I don’t try and think about what I’ve accomplished and whatnot, but if I sit back and think about it, yeah, I’ve always been proud to represent England,” Bisping said. “Being the first world champion from Britain, that’s something I’m very proud of. The UK MMA scene is booming, we have tremendous fighting talent, and we have a solid presence now. On the more localized UFC shows, we see great talent on display all the time and it’s just going to get better and better.”
Bisping and St-Pierre meet in the main event of UFC 217 on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.