After losing to Kelvin Gastelum last November, Michael Bisping wasn’t sure whether he’d fight again. Even months later, he still weighed his options — hanging up his gloves or stepping into the cage at least once more — trying to determine what would be best for his life.
But the former UFC middleweight champion has finally made up his mind.
On Monday, Bisping announced his retirement from MMA on his podcast, Believe You Me.
“Obviously, I’ve teased this for a long time now — I might fight again, I might not,” Bisping said. “Unfortunately, it’s not a fight I’m announcing. I’m going to announce my official retirement from mixed martial arts.”
Bisping, who won the title against Luke Rockhold in June 2016 and defended it once against Dan Henderson in November 2016, considered fighting at UFC London in March. A rematch against Vitor Belfort was discussed, but the Brit wasn’t interested. So was a bout against Rashad Evans, but it never came to fruition.
The 39-year-old hasn’t fought since his first-round knockout to Gastelum, which followed a title loss to Georges St-Pierre just weeks before at UFC 217. And, unless anything changes in the future, the Gastelum fight will go down as “The Count’s” last.
After the Gastelum bout, Bisping said he started having issues with his good eye (one of his eyes was permanently injured in a 2013 UFC bout against Belfort). That’s one of the reasons he’s stepping away now, not later.
“After the Gastelum fight, I went to a party with all my team, friends, etc.,” Bisping said. “We went to a club, and because it was dark, I kept seeing this flash out of the corner of my good eye. I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ and I keep looking. Then I realize there’s no flash going on; it’s just my eye. Every time I look left, it flashes — and it still does it now when it’s dark.”
“I was kind of freaking out. First thing I did when I get home, I went to a doctor. They checked it out, and they said it probably was a detached retina. They looked at it and said, “No, it’s not a detached retina, it’s a vitreous detachment.”
Vitreous, a gel-like substance, fills most of the eye’s interior and helps the eye maintain a round shape, per National Eye Institute. “There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina,” per the site. When the vitreous shrinks, the fibers break, causing the vitreous to separate from the retina.
This occurrence, called vitreous detachment, isn’t sight-threatening, but it can lead to retinal detachment, which is.
Now dealing with a second damaged eye, Bisping, a veteran of the sport, simply doesn’t see enough pros of continuing to compete.
“It ain’t worth it,” Bisping said. “What else am I gonna do? I won the belt, I’ve had tons of wins, I’ve done everything that I set out to do. Fortunately now, I’ve used my platform to open other doors.”
Bisping holds the record for most UFC wins (20) and most UFC fights (29). He retires on a two-fight skid and with a record of 30-9. His most impressive winning streak came late in his career, from April 2015 to October 2016, and included wins over Rockhold and middleweight great Anderson Silva.