Britain’s Michael Bisping will jump back into the octagon to save the show in Shanghai, just three weeks after losing his UFC middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre in New York at UFC 217.
When Anderson Silva’s failed drug test forced the Brazilian out of his main event bout with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai on November 25, the UFC needed to find a replacement.
And when the Brit heard about the news, the former world champion grabbed his phone and surprised UFC president Dana White with a text offering to step in on just two weeks’ notice.
“It’s like a gift from the gods,” Bisping told The MMA Hour on Monday night.
“I get a chance to fight again, I get a chance to exorcise my demons, I get a chance to get back in the winning column. All good things.
“So I text Dana. I said ‘Listen, I know a guy that fought last week who has no injuries who can fight in Shanghai’.
“He text back ‘interesting’. I text back ‘very’. Twenty minutes later he gave me a phone call. We agreed some terms [and] we said we’d do it.”
Bisping was provisionally medically suspended for 30 days by the New York State Athletic Commission following his submission loss to St-Pierre at Madison Square Garden on November 4.
It meant Bisping needed to be medically checked to the Commission’s satisfaction before he was able to take the fight. But ‘The Count’ confirmed that he’d gone through all the relevant checks to make sure he was cleared for competition so soon after his last outing.
“We dealt with all that,” he explained.
“I said: ‘Listen, physically I’m fine. Mentally, I’m wounded. And the only thing that’s going to make that right is that I’m able to fight again. I’m emotionally and mentally scarred. Physically I’m fine.’
“There was a little bit of testing – an MRI and whatnot. I was checked up, the New York Commission was satisfied and there we go. We’re all good.”
Bisping’s decision to step in to face Gastelum has drawn widespread praise, including from former WWE star-turned-Hollywood icon Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who hailed the Brit’s attitude.
“I feel like I can go again right now”.. Gracious in defeat and exctly 7 days later @bisping takes the next @ufc main event fight against Gastelum. Love his f*cking attitude. Blood, sweat, respect. https://t.co/NvREXeTvCK
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) November 12, 2017
And after losing his title at Madison Square Garden, Bisping admitted he jumped at the opportunity to get back into the octagon against Gastelum, a dangerous rising contender in the UFC’s middleweight division.
“I respect Kelvin Gastelum, I really do,” said Bisping.
“I’ve got nothing against him whatsoever. He seems a nice man and he’s a great fighter.
“But this isn’t about fighting Kelvin. This is for me. I want to go out there, get back in the win column, fight to the best of my ability and do what I do best and what I love to do.”
But, despite stepping in to take the main event bout with Gastelum in Shanghai, Bisping insisted he still wants to finish his career at the UFC’s return to London on March 17 next year with a final fight at The O2 Arena.
He confirmed that fact to me over the weekend, and did the same to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday
Despite landing himself a short-notice main-event spot in China for #UFCShanghai, @MikeBisping's overall plans haven’t changed. He confirmed to me he still wants his final bout to take place at #UFCLondon next year. – #UFC #martialarts #mma #bjj #kickboxing #boxing #muaythai #wrestling #kungfu #karate #taekwondo #aikido #wushu #lethwei #fight #fitness #sports #follow
“God bless Shanghai. I’m sure it’s a great place and the people are very nice,” he said.
“But I’ve never been to China. Why would my retirement fight be in China?
“There’s a fight card in London. I would love to be on that.
“I would love to be a part of that and say thank you to the British people for supporting me and have my last fight there.”
And while he has his sights firmly set on a farewell fight on home soil next year, Bisping said the chance to get back into the cage and put things right so soon after his recent defeat was just too good to turn down.
“This is just was one of those crazy circumstances that fell into my lap,” he said.
“This is a sign. I’ve got to take this.
“You’re only as good as your last fight, and my last fight didn’t go to plan.
“And I’m in shape, I’m on weight, I feel good, I’ve got no injuries. So why wouldn’t I?”