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Should Michael Bisping call it quits?

By on November 27, 2017

bisping 2Michael Bisping’s choice to step up and fight the dangerous Kelvin Gastelum just a few weeks after dropping the middleweight title to George St. Pierre was a curious one, and it unsurprisingly led to Bisping adding a loss to his resume.

Now, you really can’t take issue with Bisping’s gameness or love for the sport here. But to be honest, who ever could? Say what you want about Bisping, but he’s never been shy about taking on a challenge. Some detractors would point at his title defenses – particularly his fight against Dan Henderson – as proof that Bisping wasn’t a “take on all comers” fighter, but I would disagree. A couple of fights out of a 39-fight career should not define a fighter’s legacy.

You won’t talk sense into people that hate Bisping that much; so I won’t try to. Hell, I’m not a huge fan of his behavior much of the time, but I also see the value in being able to separate the athlete, the persona, and the actual man (which is nearly always different from the persona, especially in post-Sonnen MMA).

Anyway, there’s a better question to be asked. Should Bisping call it a day?

Many people seem to think so, and Bisping would appear to be one of them. Rumors abound that he would like to fight in London next March and then hang up the gloves for good. And then there are these comments, which actually came before the Gastelum fight:

“I’m not the champion anymore, I’m just taking fights for the sake of fighting. Does that mean I want to win? My god, I will fight to the death to try to win, I will never quit,” Bisping said. “But if I lose, fuck it.”

That’s an uncommonly honest point of view from an active professional fighter. Bisping is admitting that while he will always try to win, he’s not really that concerned about the effects of a loss. And that’s where he should be at this point in his career, honestly.

Bisping has no delusions about his future in the sport. He knows as well as the rest of us do that his title reign was yes, the result of a career’s worth of hard work, but also the result of perfect timing (and not just in regard to the punch that dropped Luke Rockhold, either). He isn’t holding on to some hope that he could win a couple of key fights and get back into position for another title fight.

So this begs the question, which is one that has come up many times over the years: if a fighter has no real hope of reaching the top, should he or she stop fighting? Is there anything wrong with fighting just because you’re able to physically, you enjoy it, and there’s money to be made?

Many seem to believe that there’s something cynical about extending your career in this way, but I disagree. If a guy like Bisping can hang around for awhile, even if it’s just a couple of extra fights, and fight just for his own personal satisfaction (and for a couple of paydays, of course), why shouldn’t he?

He’s the one that’s fought 39 times, endured 39 training camps, spent untold hours in sweaty training rooms and others recuperating various injuries. This is the point of his career where he can pick an attractive matchup or two and just fight for the sake of fighting before he leaves the sport.

Should Michael Bisping retire? As long as he’s physically healthy, it’s entirely up to him. And that’s how it should be.

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