Michael Bisping knows his time in the sport of mixed martial arts is dwindling down, but he's still got plenty of fight left.
That's why the former middleweight champion didn't blink when the opportunity arose to step in on short notice to face Kelvin Gastelum in the main event at UFC Fight Night in China in less that two weeks time.
In fact, it was Bisping who called UFC president Dana White and asked for the fight against Gastelum after he heard that Anderson Silva had been pulled from the card for a potential doping violation with USADA.
“I text him, ‘I see that Gastelum needs an opponent,' and I said I know a guy that fought last week that has no injuries,” Bisping revealed. “He texts back, ‘interesting,' and I said, ‘very.' Then he called me. Obviously, he was concerned that I had no injuries or anything like that. I had to do some medical tests or whatever and when he was satisfied, he was like, ‘cool, let's do it.' He was over the moon; he couldn't believe it.”
This plan to fight Gastelum throws off Bisping's original agenda. After suffering a loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, he had already decided that he wanted to have one more battle inside the Octagon, preferably in his native England in early 2018.
The UFC is scheduled to return to London in March and Bisping figured that would be the perfect swan song for his career.
As it turns out, that is still very much Bisping's plan, but he couldn't resist earning an extra paycheck off the same training camp he just had to get ready for St-Pierre and a fight against Gastelum just sounded like a lot of fun.
“I'm already bored out of my mind. I'm like what the (expletive) am I doing? I'm bored. So I'm like, screw it. I've never been to China, let's do it. Get some good Chinese food and hopefully kick Kelvin's ass,” Bisping said.
“Now, I'm close to retirement. Obviously, this just came out of the blue 24 hours ago. I wasn't fighting and now I am. As I say, I had a great training camp. I worked my ass off and now I get to have two paydays out of that. That's great. Then I'll probably have one last fight, probably in March. I'd love for my last fight to be in England. You never say never, but right now that's the plan.”
The best part about this fight with Gastelum is that it's just for Bisping to go out and enjoy himself without any of the pressure of promoting the card or spending another 10 weeks in training camp to get ready.
After a career spent in the gym and a lifetime built on the back of mixed martial arts, Bisping knows what to expect when he steps into the Octagon to face Gastelum. More than anything, he just wants the chance to get back in the win column after a tough loss at UFC 217.
“I didn't fight to the full of my potential last week. That's kind of bothering me,” Bisping said. “This is the perfect opportunity because I want to fight again, but I don't have to go through all the stress of a training camp and the dieting and everything cause that's all done. I've got no injuries and Kelvin is a good, respected opponent.
“There's no negatives in this for me.”
Related: Watch the latest episode of the go90 original series ”Why We Fight“