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Midnight Mania! How will we remember the career of Michael Bisping?

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Bisping vs Gastelum David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Michael Bisping has officially called it a career. He had been flirting with one more fight before hanging them up, but the 39-year-old Brit decided enough was enough. He had been having trouble with his good eye, as it turns out- enough to prevent that one last farewell fight. It’s a wise call from Bisping, who has had a long and storied career and still has an ongoing gig at the Fox Sports 1 commentary desk.

Michael Bisping the MMA fighter was many things. He was a brash trash talker, a UFC fixture, and, against all odds, the UFC middleweight champion- the first British UFC champion.

It used to be a running joke to hear people say they believed Bisping could be the champion given the right matchup. After all, he had come up short against in so many top matchups- the iconic UFC 100 loss to Dan Henderson being a particularly satisfying one for Bisping detractors. He had also lost to Vitor Belfort by head kick TKO, Tim Kennedy by suffocating ground and pound, Chael Sonnen via contentious split decision.

But then, somehow, he put together an improbable three-fight win streak, earning a split decision Thales Leites and somehow, in a fight that saw him just about knocked out at the end of a round, a decision against the fading middleweight GOAT, Anderson Silva. That put him in a late-notice replacement fight against Luke Rockhold. Rockhold had crushed him in their last bout, choking him out with one arm. The fight was not expected to be competitive. But Bisping turned into Left Hook Larry, knocking out Luke Rockhold in a single round. It was an astonishing moment that proved the MMA cliche true- anything can happen in the cage.

The amount of improbable events that had to go right for Bisping to end up as middleweight champion cannot be overstated. He survived a first round knockdown against CB Dolloway. His fight with Leites was one judges’ decision from going against him. That knee from Anderson Silva would have been a finish at any other second of the fight, and very well could have been called against him then. He only got the title shot against Rockhold because of an injury to Chris Weidman, and no one gave Bisping, who had never had one-punch KO power, much of a chance. You cannot call him anything but incredibly lucky. Even in his rematch with Dan Henderson, many had the fight scored against him, and Bisping had to survive more than one knockdown, always a razor’s edge of split second decisions between retaining consciousness or losing it.

Yet, it also cannot be overstated how hard Bisping worked, the amount of effort and determination he showed to put himself in those lucky positions. Never an incredible athlete, he was known to train himself to his limits and well past, resulting in the nonstop cardio that carried him to many of his wins. He was unbelievably tough; not gifted with the best chin, he survived far more than his share of flush punches and kicks and knees. His win over Anderson Silva was one of sheer grit- I’ll never forget him staggering all the way across the Octagon after ‘The Spider’ landed a front kick in the fifth round, but refusing to go down. The name of his podcast was an apt one- Believe You Me. Michael Bisping always believed in himself.

Bisping, after yet another contentious decision against his old rival, Dan Henderson, in Henderson’s retirement fight, would then hold the belt hostage in a successful bid for a big-money fight, one he lost against George St. Pierre. If he had won that bout, we would have been forced to acknowledge that he had beaten both Anderson Silva and GSP, and somehow had a credible, unlikely case for Greatest of All Time status. As it is, he went down in the third round, and got a fat Pay-Per-View paycheck for his time as champion.

But how will we remember The Count? He was a polarizing figure, called out by seemingly anyone and everyone from three divisions. Every Bisping fight somehow managed to have bad blood associated with it. He could be genuinely nasty, spitting on foes after beating them earlier in his career. He is also a dedicated husband and proud father, and many who know him like him. He is one of middleweight’s most unique stories, the brash Brit who punched above his athletic ability and achieved what should have been impossible.

Poll

Will you miss Michael Bisping now that he is gone?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    Yes- he was a unique character in MMA
    (888 votes)
  • 14%
    No- I’m glad he’s retired
    (151 votes)
1039 votes total Vote Now

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