Most fighters would curl up in a shell and hide under a rock for the remainder of the year if they were choked unconscious by Georges St-Pierre earlier this month at UFC 217 in New York City.
Luckily for fight fans, former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping is no ordinary fighter. Just weeks after losing his 185-pound title to GSP on the biggest card of the year thus far “The Count” is stepping in for a very bad Anderson Silva and fighting Kelvin Gastelum tomorrow morning (Sat., Nov. 25, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 122 live on Fight Pass from inside Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
It is an unprecedented turnaround even for an all-time great like Bisping. After all, the 38-year-old just lost his UFC championship to a former welterweight who hadn’t competed in four years. It’s good to know Bisping still has an appetite for combat, especially after the most high-profile loss of his career.
While Bisping has recently hinted at retirement, this late-notice headliner against Gastelum will not be his swan song. Instead, “The Count” will look to quickly regain divisional momentum with a win over Gastelum before he makes his return to England in March and officially steps away from the game forever. It’s a risk for Bisping considering he could enter his retirement bout next year on a two-fight losing streak, but one he’s willing to take after getting submitted by St-Pierre back on Nov. 4.
So as long as Bisping is right in the head and focused on his impending main event bout in Shanghai, we can’t really fault him for wanting to erase the GSP loss as soon as possible. Gastelum is a tough fight for anyone at 185 pounds, especially a striker like Bisping, but it’s a fight that the former UFC champion could certainly win. In fact, Bisping is looking at his matchup with Gastelum as a “win-win situation,” despite his coach going on record that Gastelum is a tougher matchup for Bisping than St-Pierre was.
On top of his confidence, Bisping is coming off a big fight camp, so this isn’t necessarily your ordinary turnaround. Outside of the damage he sustained at the hands of a returning GSP, Bisping has to be considered physically ready for his short-notice bout opposite Gastelum. The only downside is not having enough time to gameplan for his younger adversary, although Bisping’s grappling preparation for St-Pierre could easily be applied to Gastelum.
It will be interesting to see how durable Bisping will be this weekend in Shanghai. But if he’s able to keep the fight standing and quickly impose his rangy striking, this may be one of the best decisions of his career. Defeating a hungry contender like Gastelum will help Bisping save some face entering his retirement bout early next year.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 122 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m. ET, followed by the main card start time of 7 a.m. ET, also on Fight Pass.