Michael Bisping Explains Why He’s Fighting Kelvin Gastelum and Reveals Plans for Retirement

Michael Bisping already knows when he's going to call it a career

In the weeks leading up to his fight at UFC 217, Michael Bisping had teased and then later retracted that he might retire after facing Georges St-Pierre in New York.

While Bisping knew that he could keep on competing for several years, his family and management team had talked to him about going out at the right moment in his career and being finished with the sport before the sport was finished with him.

After suffering a hard fought loss to St-Pierre, Bisping admitted that he probably had one last fight left in him with hopes of competing in his native England next year before calling it a career.

Well those plans changed late last week after Anderson Silva was pulled from his fight against Kelvin Gastelum due to a potential doping violation with USADA and Bisping just couldn’t resist calling UFC president Dana White and asking to replace him.

“I was sat in the car yesterday driving to lunch with my wife and my in laws and I had Sirius XM on I heard breaking news ‘Anderson Silva is out’ so I thought he needs an opponent does he? Screw it why not. So I texted Dana [White] and within an hour the fight was done,” Bisping said in an exclusive interview.

“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. 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.”

It probably seemed crazy for Bisping to ask for a fight with Gastelum with only two weeks to go until the event — not to mention he’ll be flying halfway across the globe for the event taking place in Shanghai, China.

Still, Bisping never blinked when the opportunity came about because the situation felt very much like the time he accepted a middleweight title bout against Luke Rockhold on just over a week’s notice.

There was no pressure and no expectations on him, Bisping just went out and fought for the joy of fighting and the end result was a first round knockout. He’d love to duplicate that same performance while facing Gastelum in China.

“I haven’t even watched any fight. I’m not going to stress out. I mean I’m going to train obviously but I just fought a week ago. Since then, I’ve eaten a lot and over indulged a bit in too much alcohol but nothing too crazy. Just having dinner and a few glasses of wine. He’s a good wrestler and he’s got heavy hands, he’s got fast hands. Probably a better boxer than GSP if I’m honest. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but you never expect a walk in the park. Honestly, I’ll probably be the calmest version of myself out there because if I win, great, if I lose, bollocks,” Bisping said.

“That’s what I said to my coach last night, we went a shared a couple of beers. I said it’s one of those situation, I’m taking this for a bit of fun for me. I’m not doing this cause I’ve got to. I’m not stressed out with the training camp cause that’s done. I’m doing this because I want to take the fight. Because I’m not happy with the way [the Georges St-Pierre fight] went. It pissed me off. So I’m like here we go. I’ve got an opportunity to get back in the win column. And if I don’t win, at least I’m not losing a title this time and I get paid again.”

Bisping’s attitude and willingness to step into this situation are two of the aspects that have defined his entire career but he knows this can’t last forever and at 38, the sand in the hourglass is starting to run short.

That’s why Bisping knows this fight against Gastelum was just one he took for fun and to wash the bad taste of defeat out of his mouth, but he still plans on returning in March for one final trip inside the Octagon before calling it a career.

“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,” Bisping said.

“To be honest, I don’t see any negatives. I don’t see any drawbacks. I want to go out there and I want to get in the win column. Of course, that’s not a guarantee. Kelvin’s tough, it’s a tough fight, but I feel I can go out there and perform better than I did last week. That’s what’s important to me. Hopefully go out in a couple of weeks, get back in the win column so I can sleep well at night. Then plus stick a few more dollars in the bank account and then I’ll have my final fight in London in March.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.