Michael Bisping says he’s down for Luke Rockhold trilogy fight – with a condition

Michael Bisping is 45 and hasn’t fought in more than six years, but an old rival may have stirred something loose in him.

On his “Believe You Me” podcast with former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith, Bisping said he’d come out of retirement for a trilogy rubber match against Luke Rockhold.

But perhaps understandably, there’s a pretty big stipulation: The fight has to be under the Karate Combat banner.

This past Saturday in Dubai, Rockhold, who lost the UFC middleweight title to Bisping in a short-notice upset in 2016, knocked out longtime kickboxer and former Bellator fighter Joe Schilling in the Karate Combat 45 main event. It was Rockhold’s first combat sports win in years.

Rockhold ended his lengthy MMA career on a three-fight skid. After he lost the middleweight title to Bisping at UFC 199, he returned after 15 months off and knocked out David Branch in a main event. But his UFC run ended with knockout losses to Yoel Romero and Jan Blachowicz and, after a three-year layoff, a decision setback to Paulo Costa in August 2022.

Bisping was submitted by Rockhold in 2014 in a main event in Sydney, but got avenged the loss when he upset Rockhold for the middleweight title.

“Luke Rockhold (at Karate Combat 45) – I was doing a live (stream) to it,” Bisping said on the podcast. “And everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to do the trilogy.’ I’ll do Karate Combat against Luke Rockhold. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I will have a trilogy with Luke Rockhold in Karate Combat. I would love to.”

When Smith pressed Bisping on it and said that fight should be booked, Bisping laughed and brought up some physical ailments that might keep him from fighting right away.

“This is gathering momentum a little too quickly,” Bisping said. “Let me just see my hip doctor first and get my neck sorted. I’m joking. I’d do it – 100 percent I would. Let’s go.”

Bisping defended the middleweight title against Dan Henderson four months after he beat Rockhold to win it. But in November 2017, he was choked out by former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre in the UFC 217 main event.

Three weeks later, Bisping pulled off a monumental feat when he stepped in on short notice to fight Kelvin Gastelum in a main event in Shanghai, but Gastelum knocked him out midway through the first round. Bisping announced his retirement about six months later, and eventually said it was due to vision issues he was having in his good eye after the Gastelum loss. Bisping had issues from a detached retina in his right eye dating back to 2013.

Bisping regularly works UFC broadcasts on ESPN as one of promotion’s primary analysts, typically alongside Brendan Fitzgerald and fellow former fighters Paul Felder or Dominick Cruz.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie