Though it has been a long and winding road to UFC 217, middleweight champion Michael Bisping will fight in the biggest bout of his career on Nov. 4 in New York when he meets Georges St-Pierre in the main event at Madison Square Garden.
The fight could take Bisping's career to new heights, but it might also be the final time he sets foot in the Octagon.
Recounting the magnitude of the event and his opponent, Bisping, 38, sees the fight with St-Pierre as a potentially glorious exit.
“It’s an iconic arena, it’s a big fight. It’s Georges St-Pierre. Everybody knows who Georges St-Pierre is. There’s not many people who have crossed over from the MMA fanbase into the mainstream, and Georges, I’d say he’s there. Maybe not as much as, say, a Conor (McGregor) or a Ronda (Rousey), but he’s not far behind, so it’s a big fight,” Bisping said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
“And Georges brings a lot to the table. He’s a tough challenge, and as I said, it’s a big fight. I think this is going to be the biggest MMA fight of the year. There’s three title fights on the event, so it’s a huge event.
“And yeah, I think the career I’ve had, the years I’ve been in the UFC, the injuries I’ve had, the ups and downs, getting close to title fights and all of this, there’s a possibility this might be my last ever fight. I don’t know if I’ll fight again after this. What a way to go out if it is.”
Bisping has been fighting professionally since 2004, but made his way to the Octagon after just two years. He's never fought elsewhere since.
Constantly flirting with championship fights, Bisping made the most of his first opportunity, stepping in on short notice for Chris Weidman at UFC 199 in June of 2016. He knocked out then-champion Luke Rockhold to take the belt.
He has fought only once since, winning a unanimous decision over Dan Henderson in the former Pride champion's retirement fight. Now, against St-Pierre, Bisping could be facing his own retirement.
“I’ve done it for so long now, and there’s other things to do in life. I still love this, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t do it forever. You can’t do it forever, and Georges, Georges should have stayed retired. He should have retired as a champion. I’m going to beat Georges and I’ll retire as a champion, maybe. I haven’t made my mind up on that yet.”
Bisping has been making a push of late to get into acting. He's already appeared in several films and has several more on tap, as well as a Netflix series. Acting is generally less punishing on the body than training and fighting, but it's not a done deal that he will walk away after fighting the former welterweight great.
“If there’s enough money involved, maybe I’ll stick around. But as of right now, I don’t know. My family wants me to retire. My wife wants me to retire. There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Mike, you should retire.' My manager says it. So everyone’s in my ear saying, ‘Mike, you should retire, you should retire as champion.' I’ve earned some money along the way. I’ve had a great career. I’ve represented my country. I’ve achieved more through mixed martial arts than what I ever would’ve dreamed of. We can’t keep going forever. You’ve got to know when the time is right, and I’m not saying the time is right, but I am contemplating it.”