Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping announced his retirement from MMA competition on Monday evening on his podcast Believe You Me.
Of all the adjectives to describe Michael Bisping outside the cage, the word “outspoken” probably encapsulates what it has been like to watch “The Count” for the past decade. He began his career undefeated, earning championships in English promotions such as Cage Rage and Cage Warriors before he was introduced to the masses on Season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter. As a member of Tito Ortiz’s team, Bisping’s signature brashness quickly became apparent as he went through the competition. But even then, his skills were impossible to deny as they carried him to victory on the show in 2006.
Bisping would compete as a light heavyweight for several years, but close fights with Matt Hamill and Rashad Evans led to his decision to drop down in weight to 185 pounds where he would have his most notable fights. Bisping would amass a 15-8 record at middleweight, and compete in three title eliminators in his ten years in the weight class. For years, his setbacks in those matches stood out when evaluating his place among the best in the world. It would be something he would not be able to shake until several years later.
As a fighter, Bisping became one of the biggest stars for the UFC overseas. At a time when the company did not travel internationally as frequently as it does now, Bisping was consistently put on cards in his native England. His penchant for playing the heel, when accompanied by his victories, would often secure him marquee matchups and opportunities. Among his most memorable was as a coach of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Dan Henderson for a season set up as “USA vs. UK” and the two had one of the more intense rivalries in the history of the show. While Bisping’s fighters went on to win the competition, Henderson had the final word as he scored the infamous knockout of Bisping at the landmark UFC 100 event.
“The Count” would go on to serve as a coach again in 2011 where he had another fighter on his team win the show. However, he subsequently entered a stretch that would be his most difficult. Bisping would go 3-4, losing to Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort in title eliminators. After several years with the company, it seemed as if an opportunity to compete for gold simply wasn’t in the cards for him. Furthermore, an eye injury in 2013 would go on to take a year off of his career. He has admitted that he has put off surgery to completely correct the issue as it would be a career-ending procedure.
He had a career resurgence in 2015, going on a five-fight win streak. The run was capitalized by a career year in 2016 where he defeated long-time champion Anderson Silva in an exciting contest. Later that June, Chris Weidman would fall out of his bout with champion Luke Rockhold. With two weeks’ notice, Bisping stepped up and scored one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport when he knocked out Rockhold in the first round to become the undisputed champion of the world. The victory was made even sweeter considering Rockhold had defeated Bisping in brutal fashion two years earlier. Bisping would go on to defend his title against Dan Henderson in a five-round effort several months later.
The most remarkable part of his run was that just months earlier, it appeared that Bisping was on his way out the door from fighting already. By all accounts, the Englishman was looking at journeyman status for the last chapter of his carer. Bisping, however, has been setting up for his post-fighting career for years. He currently serves as an analyst on FOX where he also hosts TUF Talk following every new episode of The Ultimate Fighter. He has also begun dabbling in acting where he has booked roles on xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Westworld, Den of Thieves, and Macgyver.
In an amusing piece by MMAJunkie, fighters were asked to describe Michael Bisping in one word. It was immediately apparent how polarizing a character “The Count” had become over the years. When asked the word he would use to describe himself, Bisping chose to go with “misunderstood.” Perhaps that is the only way to summarize a fighter who has long been considered an overachiever. Brash and bold, Michael Bisping steps away from the cage as an outspoken former champion who was never afraid to say exactly what was on his mind.