Lyoto Machida got back in the win column, taking a split decision over Eryk Anders in the main event of UFC Belem last weekend. Afterwards, Machida called for a fight with former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, saying that both men were near retirement and the fight would “mean a lot.”
Well, Bisping is open to the idea.
Speaking recently on his Believe You Me podcast, Bisping addressed Machida’s call out, saying that he has a lot of respect for the former light heavyweight champion and that a final fight against “The Dragon” would be a fitting way to end his career.
“I’ve no problem with the decision,” Bisping said. “What I do have a problem with is what Machida said afterwards. I’m only joking, I don’t really have a problem with it. He called me out, once again.
“He just said we were supposed to fight a couple of times over the years and that it hadn’t happened and that basically he had a lot of respect for me. And I have a lot of respect for Machida, I really do. As I said on Saturday, he’s one of the true, last martial arts specialist and one of the true martial artists that competes in the Octagon, so I have respect for him. Of course, there was the whole steroid issue, so I don’t want to rehash Saturday’s show, but there’s always going to be an asterisk over him.”
“The Rashad fight we spoke about and it didn’t materialize. The Machida fight is something as well that could potentially serve as my last fight. [It’s] very similar to Rashad in many ways: former champion, had a long career, getting to the final stages of his career, somebody that I haven’t fought and have a lot of respect for, that’s had a great career. So, it ticks all the boxes from that standpoint and that’s about it.”
Bisping has been publicly flirting with retirement since losing his middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 in November and was eyeing a final bout in his home country when the UFC returns to London in March. He was reportedly offered a fight against former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, a rematch of their split decision affair at UFC 78 that was Bisping’s first professional loss and precipitated his drop down to middleweight, but those plans fell through.
Bisping’s fighting future is uncertain, having recently suggested that his family would prefer he retire from the sport without taking another fight, and “The Count” says he needs to speak with UFC President Dana White and the rest of the UFC management to figure out what his next step will be.
“As of right now I’ve got to speak to the UFC and figure out what’s going on for myself so I’m not considering opponents or who they are. I’ve got to speak with Dana and the UFC guys and figure out what’s next and what’s happening in life.
“God bless Machida. Thanks for the call out and we will see what the future holds.”