It’s been months since Michael Bisping teased the possibility of one final fight, and still it seems he’s no closer to finalizing an opponent. Part of that is due to Bisping’s very specific requirements.
This is a man who knows what he wants from his last opponent – or at least he knows what he doesn’t want.
“I don’t want to be remembered for being a (expletive), and I feel that Vitor Belfort would bring out that side of my personality,” Bisping said. “It’s my last ever fight; I want to go there and enjoy it. I want to embrace the moment, I want to live in the moment, I want to be respectful towards my opponent, basically thank all the fans of Great Britain for always supporting my career. Not lunging and arguing and swearing and going at the guy and acting regrettably, because years later I would look back and I would regret that.”
Basically, according to the former UFC middleweight champ, he wanted an opponent with whom he could have a good, clean fight, and not someone who had “disfigured” him, and against whom he would inevitably get sucked into “a typical Michael Bisping performance of trash talk.”
So who does that leave? Who would make sense as an opponent, and attract the interest of fans, while still fulfilling Bisping’s final fight checklist to cap off his extensive career? Let’s weigh some options …
Current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie ranking: 4
Why it works: They’ve got history. Luke Rockhold submitted Bisping in their first meeting, then Bisping shocked the world by knocking him out to claim the UFC middleweight title in the rematch. A rubber match makes a certain undeniable sense, plus with Rockhold coming off a loss to Yoel Romero it doesn’t feel like a waste of a top contender. Rockhold has even said he’ll retire if Bisping beats him again, so that adds some pro wrestling-style stakes.
Why it doesn’t: Bisping might not hate Rockhold with the same fiery passion he reserves for Belfort, but it still wouldn’t be a friendly, respectful build-up. All the lunging and arguing and swearing that Bisping says he’d regret? Yeah, that’s pretty much a given here. There’s also the fact that many fans already see Bisping’s title win and brief reign as a fluke. If he goes for the rubber match and loses, he may undercut his greatest achievement just as he slips into retirement.
Current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie ranking: 7
Why it works: How is it even possible that these two haven’t fought at least once already? Probably it’s because Chris Weidman was ascendant at a time when no one seriously considered Bisping as a potential title challenger, and then fell on hard times just as Bisping surged into the top spot. Now Weidman’s coming off a win over the same guy who just knocked Bisping out in his last fight, so maybe the timing is just right. Plus, ex-champ vs. ex-champ is always a fun time.
Why it doesn’t: Once again, there’s the animosity angle. Even though they’ve never met in the cage, they’ve still feuded bitterly online and in the media. (Are you seeing a trend yet?) It would get personal in a hurry, and there would almost certainly be some cussing, but if that’s going to be a catch-all dealbreaker then we might as well forget the whole retirement fight thing altogether. Honestly, the toughest part might be getting them both to agree. Weidman has his eye on a title shot. Bisping seems to just want a win on his way out the door, and Weidman makes for a tough stylistic match-up.
Current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie ranking: 12
Why it works: The two biggest things going for Derek Brunson here are: 1) He’s been lobbying hard for this fight via social media, so you know he’ll agree, and 2) He’s not already booked against anyone else. Beyond that, he tends to put on exciting fights, even when he loses them, and he’s got enough of a name that the UFC could reasonably expect to get us excited about this pairing as a headliner on free TV or Fight Pass.
Why it doesn’t: This is yet another possibility that Bisping has publicly shot down, explaining that he has “bigger fish to fry.” Exactly what that means, it’s tough to say. Everyone else who’s ranked above Brunson (and hasn’t already been mentioned here) is already booked or is otherwise unavailable. Fighters who are literally bigger in weight class, like Rashad Evans, have been similarly turned down by Bisping. Bisping seems to want someone with more star-power than Brunson, but who? Who?!
If Bisping wants to go out on a big fight that will make lots of noise and draw lots of eyeballs, Rockhold is the best bet. If he wants a name with some heat attached, but no real risk to his legacy, then it’s Weidman. If he just wants someone he stands a good chance of beating, and with whom he has no outstanding personal beef, say yes to Brunson. Just choose someone, please. And soon.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: What does Michael Bisping want from a final opponent, and who best fits the bill?