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Michael Bisping says UFC 217 showdown against Georges St-Pierre ‘might be my last ever fight’

Michael Bisping has accomplished a lot over the course of his 12-year run in the UFC.

Whether it’s his TUF 3 triumph, or tying the UFC record for most overall wins, or the late-career resurgence that carried him to the middleweight title, Bisping has remained a fixture at the highest levels of the sport for longer than nearly all of his contemporaries from MMA’s boom period. So with his Nov. 4 showdown against Georges St-Pierre looming — a matchup that’s exactly the type of blockbuster moneymaker that always eluded him — Bisping believes there’s a chance UFC 217 could spell the perfect end to his career.

“It’s an iconic arena, it’s a big fight,” Bisping said Monday on a special 400th edition of The MMA Hour. “It’s Georges St-Pierre. Everybody knows who Georges St-Pierre is. There’s not many people who have crossed over from the MMA fanbase into the mainstream, and Georges, I’d say he’s there. Maybe not as much as, say, a Conor (McGregor) or a Ronda (Rousey), but he’s not far behind, so it’s a big fight. And Georges brings a lot to the table. He’s a tough challenge, and as a said, it’s a big fight. I think this is going to be the biggest MMA fight of the year. There’s three title fights on the event, so it’s a huge event.

“And yeah, 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.”

The revelation was an unexpected one from Bisping, 38, who in June 2016 captured the UFC middleweight title with a stunning first-round knockout over Luke Rockhold to completely rewrite the story of his fighting career. But after 27 outings in the Octagon and more than a decade’s worth of competition, “The Count” understands it may just be time to move on to the next chapter of his life.

“Just, I’ve been here for so long,” Bisping explained. “I’ve done it for so long now, and there’s other things to do in life. I mean, I still love this, don’t get me wrong. But you can’t do it forever. You can’t do it forever, and Georges — Georges should’ve stayed retired. He should’ve retired as a champion. I’m going to beat Georges and I’ll retire as a champion, maybe. I haven’t made my mind up on that yet. It depends.

“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.’ I’ve earned some money along the way, I’ve had a great career, I’ve represented my country. I’ve achieved more through mixed martial arts than what I ever would’ve dreamed of. We can’t keep going forever. You’ve got to know when the time is right, and I’m not saying the time is right, but I am contemplating it.”

Bisping said his retirement has been a topic of discussion within his family since before his 2016 title shot against Rockhold. He said his wife wanted him to retire “win or lose” after that fight, but once he won the belt, he took that option off the table. But now, as Bisping inches closer to 40 years old and the opportunities available to him outside the fight game continue to grow, it’s a discussion he’s revisited ahead of UFC 217.

“It’s a 50/50 (chance I retire),” Bisping said. “It may or may not be. But not because — you know when you hear Dana (White) say, ‘When people start talking about retirement, that means they’re done.’ That doesn’t mean that at all. I’m just trying to think smartly here, because you can’t do it forever. You really can’t. And you’ve got to know when 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. 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 sh*t knocked out of you, you’re still making a payday — I’ve done myself an injustice there.”

Either way, Bisping made it clear that his final decision is one he likely won’t settle on until after the “GSP” fight, as he is still relishing every step of the journey towards Madison Square Garden and UFC 217.

“We’ll see,” Bisping said. “I’m still enjoying it. I’ve just had a great training session with (coach) Jason Parillo. Sparred five fives this morning, ran this morning. I’m going to go train tonight. The fire is still there, I’m still hungry as ever. I still love this sport and I’m going to put a beating on GSP like he’s never experienced. I’m going to remind him why he retired.”

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