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Michael Bisping was prepared to shelve MMA career, trash talking for good after eye injury

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
September 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Michael Bisping (left) grapples with Brian Stann (right) in the middleweight championship during UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Michael Bisping (left) doesn't like Tim Kennedy very much. Good thing they are fighting Wed. (USA Today)

Michael Bisping spent several hours on the telephone Monday, doing his unique brand of trash talking prior to his UFC bout on Wednesday against Tim Kennedy at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City.

The guy lives for this stuff, and nobody, no matter how clever he may happen to be, is going to beat him at it.

Kennedy has given it the old college try, taunting Bisping relentlessly for months, but it's as if Kennedy has barely laid a glove on the Englishman.

However, as much as Bisping loves to fight and to talk about fighting, he would have quickly given it up had he not heard what he needed to hear from his doctors last year.

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Michael Bisping's eye injury put his career in a holding pattern. (MMAWeekly)

Bisping suffered a detached retina of the right eye during an April 27, 2013 fight against Alan Belcher in Newark, N.J. That was repaired, but problems during his recovery forced him to pull out of an Oct. 26 bout in Manchester, England against Mark Munoz.

Doctors put oil into the eye during the surgery to reattach the retina. According to Bisping, when the retina is reattached properly, the oil is removed.

But in his case, the oil was removed too quickly and the retina became detached again.

Bisping was training for Munoz and suddenly could barely see. This is a guy with a wife and three children, and for all of his love of fighting, he lives for his family. He wasn't willing to do anything that would put his eyesight at risk.

He went to practice one day and he found himself struggling to see what was immediately in front of him.

"All of a sudden, I could hardly see out of the eye and that was very disturbing and troubling," Bisping said. "I had to pull out of that fight and start the process right from the beginning again."

He is fully healed and said he is not at any greater risk than any other fighter. The oil is still inside of his eye and he said doctors told him it is impossible for the retina to become detached again with the oil still inside.

Bisping said he would have walked away from the sport, as much as he loves it, if he would have been at risk of losing his vision.

"It's not a risk at all [for me to fight]," Bisping said. "If it was, listen. I love being in the UFC. I've got three children and I'm only in my 30s. I don't want to lose my eyesight. If it was a risk, no question about it, I wouldn't do it. The doctors have 100 percent assured me that.

"And to be fair to them, they always said, from the very first day, that eventually, I'd be able to fight again."

And now he's back and will meet Kennedy in a fight that his opponent did his best to turn into a grudge match.

[Bisping: Hard to take Kennedy's 'pathetic' trash talk seriously]

One doesn't have to goad Bisping very hard to bring him into a war of words. For weeks, they've landed broadsides at each other in the media, particularly in a series of blogs they've written for Yahoo Sports where their disdain for each other was obvious.

"I'm here to settle the score, punch him in the face and beat him up," Bisping said.

Bisping is extraordinarily confident and said he doesn't think Kennedy is close to being an elite fighter. Bisping is 14-5 and only the elite fighters have beaten him.

He's lost to three fighters – Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen – who were on Testosterone Replacement Therapy, and his loss to Sonnen was by extremely close decision.

Bisping dreams of not only fighting for but winning the UFC championship, though he's lost when he's put himself in position to get a title shot.

He's all about fighting and getting the belt, which he finds in some ways disappointing.

"I truly love what I do, I really enjoy it and, obviously, it pays very well, so that is one good thing about this," Bisping said. "But it kind of defines me as a person, which in some ways is a little bit sad, to think that's all I'm good for, fighting. I wish I did something that had a little more substance to it. But those are the facts."

And so he'll go out and try to shut the mouth of another big pre-fight talker and keep his focus on the goal of a title shot.

[Kennedy: No respect for 'dirty' fighter Bisping]

At times, he sounds so confident that he'll beat Kennedy that one gets the sense he may not be taking the bout seriously enough. But Bisping has been around for a decade now and he's never come into a fight not properly prepared.

"I look at this guy's skill set and I'm being 100 percent honest with you, but I truly do not see anything elite," Bisping said. "Perhaps I'll feel differently after we fight, but that's why we fight these fights. But you know, I never underestimate an opponent. That's why, for the most part, I always win my fights, because I always train accordingly.

"This is how I support my family and this is my career and it's very important to me. Really, it's the only thing I have bragging rights to, is fighting in the UFC. It's important to me, I'm good at it and it's my identity. And because this is it for me, I always make sure I'm able on fight night to be as good as I can so I can excel as much as possible."

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