Michael Bisping interview: ‘I may fight again after Georges St-Pierre bout at UFC 217’
British middleweight champion headlines Ultimate Fighting Championship event at Madison Square Garden
When Michael Bisping steps into the octagon to face Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 this Saturday, the middleweight title bout won’t just be the most anticipated fight of the year but also the biggest of the Briton’s career.
The 38-year-old - who was born at an army base in Cyprus and raised in Clitheroe, Lancashire - has gone from fighting for free in mixed martial arts (MMA) events when no one knew what the sport was, to claiming the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown.
In September, Bispiing told online show The MMA Hour that the fight against Canadian UFC legend St-Pierre might well be his “last ever”.
But after a “fantastic” training camp, Bisping has told The Week that he may, in fact, continue his fighting career.
Bisping says it will “probably not be my last fight, but let’s see how the fight goes against GSP and game plan from there”. He adds: “There are other athletes to fight out there, but I can’t do this forever.”
Returning after a four-year absence from UFC, three-time former welterweight champion St-Pierre will be a tough opponent for Bisping. According to The Sun, the fight has been eight months in the making.
Bisking told The Week that he feels more than ready for their clash at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden arena.
“The training went fantastic, the best camp I have had my entire career - now it’s about making weight,” Bisping says. “I was sparring three times a week and doing exceptional against all my training partners. I have definitely reached a peak in my performance and you can expect the best version of Michael Bisping on Saturday night.
“Regardless of the title fights, to be headlining the card in Madison Square Garden is a huge moment. I am proud to be the first British champion and headlining MSG is a testament to all the hard work.
“A lot of blood, sweat and tears but here I am and incredibly proud of what I have achieved.”
Although Bisping has yet to decide if his UFC career will continue, he is already planning for a future outside of the octagon.
Training other fighters is an option, but he also wants to write a new script in his life - as an actor. This year Bisping made his movie debut in xXx: Return of Xander Cage and appeared in hit TV series Twin Peaks, playing a security guard. He has also been cast in upcoming films Triple Threat and Den of Thieves.
“I have been involved in this sport since I was eight years old, so, hopefully, I can train and coach athletes down the line,” he says.
“I am also working hard to build on an acting career, [it’s a] tough business, but it’s going well. I don’t take anything for granted, I am going into it with realistic expectations.
“I [also] have business investments outside of UFC, and I am a family man with a wife and kids, so I enjoy spending time with them.”
Bisping has experienced first-hand the rapid growth of UFC and feels privileged to have been part of the success story.
“UFC has done a fantastic job of establishing the biggest leading brand in mixed martial arts,” he says. “Years ago, many people didn’t know what MMA was nor understand the sport.
“Due to the UFC educating people on MMA as a sport, people give us the respect as athletes, opening doors to opportunities which wasn’t available in the past. It has been amazing to be part of the UFC journey.”
Launched in 1993, UFC has developing into a major brand and was bought for $4bn by talent agency WME-IMG last year. Shows are held internationally and fights are broadcast live across the globe on TV and via the UFC’s own Fight Pass platform.
Here in the UK, the interest in UFC just keeps growing, says Bisping.
“The social media engagement is huge for UFC and the UFC fighters. If you go on social media after a fight, all you see is talk about the UFC fights, whereas in the past this level of interest and attention to the sport was not there.
“In the UK, there is frequent events and great talent emerging. I am the first British champion, which I am proud of, but I dare say I am not the last.”
How to watch Bisping vs. St-Pierre at UFC 217
The fights takes place on Saturday 4 November in New York, but time differences mean it starts at around 4am on Sunday morning UK time. BT Sport will show all of UFC 217 live, and the UFC Fight Pass service will also stream the action.
Bisping vs. St-Pierre betting odds
Best prices offered via Oddschecker:
- Bisping to win 6/5
- Bisping by points 11/4
- Bisping by decision or technical decision 3/1
- Bisping by KO, TKO submission or disqualification 3/1
- St-Pierre to win 19/20
- St-Pierre by points 9/5
- St-Pierre by decision or technical decision 2/1
- St-Pierre by KO, TKO submission or disqualification 13/4