It hasn’t even been two weeks since UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping was choked out by Georges St-Pierre at Madison Square Garden, New York. But here we are ten days away from Bisping’s next fight, this time against Kelvin Gastelum in Shanghai, China on November 25.
Many feel the fight has come much too soon and that Bisping, put to sleep by St-Pierre in round three of their fight, and rocked by punches beforehand, should have been given more time to recover, heal. Bisping, though, has no such concerns. In fact, once offered the chance to fill the void left by Anderson Silva (who failed another drug test) and fight Gastelum, the 38-year-old Briton was quick to say “yes”. For him, a true fighter, it wasn’t even a question.
“Some people play the piano and some people fight,” Bisping said during yesterday’s pre-fight conference call. “I like to fight, simple as that. I like to fight and I haven’t got the belt anymore, so f*ck it, let’s fight.
“I’ve done this my entire life. I’ve done martial arts since I was eight years old. I’m in shape and I’m on weight. I’ve got no injuries. Realistically, I don’t see how I could’ve turned this down. I honestly think this is a win-win situation for me. I get to go out there, get back in the win column hopefully, put on a great fight, remind the world what I’m capable of, and get paid again. So it’s all positives from my perspective.”
In a sense, Bisping is right. It really is a no-lose situation. Win and he rebounds from a crushing defeat to St-Pierre – a loss that ended his run as middleweight champion – in fine style, exorcising any demons quicker than he could have hoped. Lose, however, and Bisping will still be celebrated for his bravery and willingness to accept such an assignment at short-notice. He will also be one step closer to retirement, something he has been teasing for a while now, with a bank balance even healthier than it was back in October, bolstered by not one but two paydays.
Oh, and he also gets to visit China, something of a happy hunting ground, for a second time.
“I’ve got fond memories of fighting in China,” Bisping said. “I beat the piss out of Cung Le there, who has a lot of similarities (to Gastelum). He’s a southpaw, he’s a shorter, stockier guy with good, explosive striking and actually not bad wrestling. It went well. I’ve got good memories and hopefully it goes well again. We’ll see. No doubt Kelvin has applied himself and we’re going to see a great version. He was fighting Anderson Silva, and everybody always gets up for Anderson Silva, so I’m not expecting an easy fight.”
Bisping knows he’s in for a tough fight. He’d expect nothing less. He’s also at the stage in his career, approaching the end credits, when he’ll be looking to squeeze every last drop from the experience. Fight everybody, every kind of style, young and old. Most importantly, get paid for doing so.
“Kelvin’s a tough guy,” he said. “He’s a great fighter. He’s got excellent boxing, he’s a strong dude, and he has good wrestling. He’s in shape and is always getting better. I’m not expecting a walk in the park. Far from it. But this is what we do. There’s no easy fights out there. We’re all big, strong alpha males that are trained in martial arts, so may the best man win in China.”
With nothing to prove, and nothing really to lose, Michael Bisping appears to have finally cracked the game at the ripe old age of 38.