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Michael Bisping announces official retirement from MMA

There will be no farewell fight for “The Count.”

Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping officially announced his retirement from mixed martial arts Monday on his Believe You Me Podcast, bringing an end to a 14-year career that saw Bisping establish himself as one of the most successful and longest tenured fighters in UFC history while also becoming a pioneer for MMA in the United Kingdom.

“So obviously I’ve teased this for a long time now, I might fight again, I might not. And unfortunately it’s not a fight that I’m announcing. I am going to announce my official retirement from mixed martial arts,” Bisping said.

Bisping, 39, has spoken openly about his indecision regarding his retirement since he suffered a first-round knockout loss to Kelvin Gastelum last November at UFC Shanghai, his second loss in a span of 22 days. Bisping admitted Monday that he was prepared to retire in June 2016 at UFC 199 if he lost his long-awaited shot at the middleweight title against Luke Rockhold, however his stunning upset of Rockhold changed his plans.

Having dealt with complications with his right eye since 2013, Bisping revealed that he suffered a separate injury to his left eye following the Gastelum fight. “The Count” said he started seeing “flashes” out of his left eye at a party in the aftermath of his loss to Gastelum, and those issues have persisted in the months since.

“I realized there’s no flash going on; it’s just my eye, and every time I look left, it flashes. And it still does it now when it’s dark,” Bisping said. “It’s light now so I can’t see it. So I started freaking out, thinking oh my God, I don’t believe this, I’ve got a detached retina in my good eye. I have problems with my bad eye, it doesn’t look good, so obviously I was kind of freaking out.”

Bisping said doctors diagnosed him with a vitreous detachment in his left eye, a condition that puts him at an increased risk for another detached retina. Regardless, Bisping said he still moved forward with negotiations for a farewell fight against Rashad Evans for May 17 at UFC London. The matchup never came together though, and Bisping said he ultimately came to his decision to hang up his gloves Sunday night after watching the film Journeyman on a plane — a film in which an aging prizefighter suffers severe mental and physical problems as a result of brain trauma sustained in a late-career fight.

“I was watching this movie last night and I just thought, it ain’t worth it,” Bisping said. “It ain’t worth it. I mean, what else am I going to do? I’ve won the belt, I’ve had tons of wins, I’ve done everything that I set out to achieve. 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. So, I want to say, first of all, thank you to my wife. Without her, it wouldn’t have happened. That’s a fact. She was incredible every single step of the way. My children. My dad. My dad was amazing. And of course everyone in the U.K. and around the world that supported me.

“So, yeah, there you go. Great career. That’s that. Thank you everybody.”

“Congrats to Michael on a Hall of Fame career,” Bisping’s manager Audie Attar said in a statement provided to “The Ultimate Fighter winner, two-time Ultimate fighter coach, winningest fighter in UFC history and first British UFC Champion in history. I’ve been honored to work with Michael towards the championship years and have watched him fight through trials and tribulations as he was a perennial title contender, ultimately reaching the sport’s greatest achievement by winning a UFC Championship.

“Through all that he has achieved, the one thing I’m most proud of is how hard he fought for his family’s future, risking his life on the line each time he stepped into the octagon. I am proud to call Michael a client, but more importantly a dear friend. Now it’s time for Michael to achieve greatness in the next phase of his professional career, and the future looks bright, Mr. Bisping. Thank you for all that you’ve done for our sport.”

Bisping retires with an official MMA record of 30-9 as well as a host of all-time UFC records, including the most wins in UFC history, the most fights in UFC history, the most significant strikes landed in UFC history, and the second-most total fight time in UFC history.

A longtime contender who for the first 12 years of his career could never quite attain a shot at the title, Bisping rewrote the story of his career in his late thirties with a stunning five-fight win streak over C.B. Dollaway, Thales Leites, Anderson Silva, Rockhold, and Dan Henderson — the latter two of which saw Bisping capture then defend the UFC middleweight strap, cementing himself for the rest of time as a champion.

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