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Michael Bisping doubts validity of Kevin Holland’s retirement: ‘He’s in the prime of his life’

UFC 279: Chimaev v Holland
Kevin Holland
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Michael Bisping isn’t buying Kevin Holland’s retirement.

On Thursday, Holland posted a message on Instagram, teasing his possible retirement from MMA. Considering he’s not even 30 years old and a rising star in the UFC, retirement would be a shocking turn of events from Holland, but Bisping doubts it’s real.

“That’s bulls***,” said Bisping on his Believe You Me podcast. “That’s bulls***. Kevin Holland is a great fighter, he’s very well-known, he was the 2020 Fighter of the Year. He’s a fan favorite, he’s making money, he loves shiny things — I’m talking about gold and jewelry and stuff like that, and he wants to buy a lot more of it — and he’s in the prime of his life. If he was quitting, walking away, he would at least jazz it up a little touch, as opposed to using a font last seen on an Atari f****** game system. What is that font?! There’s no way. He’s a very stylish guy, he’s not announcing his retirement in a font from a ZX Spectrum.

“I don’t think he’s retiring at all. I don’t know what he’s playing at. Fighters do this. Conor McGregor famously always does that. He loves to tease his retirement. Diaz did it a couple of times. Jon Jones has done it.”

In recent years, several high-profile fighters have teased retirements, usually while in the middle of contract negotiations, and while it’s possible that something similar is happening with Holland, Bisping offered another reason for the post: Holland’s recent loss to Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev dominated Holland at UFC 279, submitting Holland without him even landing a strike, and the way that went down, the UFC Hall of Famer thinks it’s possible that Holland is coming to terms with getting dominated.

“The reality is, when you lose a fight — and that was a big fight with a lot of spotlight on it — against a guy like Khamzat Chimaev, and you get beaten ... maybe he’s going through a period of depression right now,” Bisping said. “Maybe he’s deflated — deflated would be a better word. He’s a great fighter with a tremendous amount of opportunity and maybe he’s gone out there and fought Khamzat and thought, ‘S***, wow. That fact that he ragdolled me like that,’ which, with respect, is kind of what happened — maybe he’s just going through a little soul-searching right now. Who knows? But I’ve been there. Lot’s of fighters go through those kind of periods.”

Bisping understands the ups and downs of being a professional fighter better than most, having overcome numerous setbacks in his career before finally breaking through to win the middleweight title at UFC 199. And so, if that really is what’s going on with Holland now, Bisping offers some advice to “Big Mouth.”

“Of course there is [doubt], there always is, but you’ve got two choices,” Bisping said. “You can say, ‘I’m not good enough. I’m going to quit. I’m going to walk away and find something else to do with my life.’ Or you can say, ‘Right, OK, I’ve got work to do. I’ve realized I have deficiencies in certain areas, and I’m going to fight. This is what I’m good at. This is what I was born to do, this is what I am destined to be.’ And you learn from those losses. It’s such a f****** cliche. We always talk about the losses and how you learn from them, but it’s truly that.

“Maybe he’s not messing around. Maybe on a whim he put that out there, maybe he’s doubting himself. But if you truly want to do this, you’re going to have that. And it’s not the wins that define you, it’s the losses and how you rebound from them.”

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