Michael Bisping Leaves Me Conflicted

I’m so torn…

I’m not sure exactly how to feel about Michael Bisping after his recent loss to Kelvin Gastelum. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about changing my mind about how I have ALWAYS felt about Michael Bisping. To give you an idea, the feelings that come to mind are rage, disgust, and pity…at least with regards to his out-of-the-cage personality. As a fighter, I can’t help but respect the fact that he’s one of the few true veterans of the sport that has stayed clean and has been up to the task of fighting anyone that the UFC puts in his way. However, I’ve realized that this respect quickly dissipates as soon as he opens his mouth for the very most part. Normally, Michael Bisping’s pattern of speech consists of sophomoric insults, trash talk without any hint of cleverness, and monologues bereft of any wit or intellectual prowess. He is, in so many ways, everything I despise about MMA. His cartoonish antics and complete lack of respect for most people in general leave such a bitter taste in my mouth that I have often felt that there is literally nothing he could do to earn my respect (to the disappointment of some of my fellow MMA enthusiasts and admitted Bisping fans).

However, after seeing him get flattened by a fiery Kelvin Gastelum just a short period of time after he was submitted in front of millions of fans around the world, the only feeling I felt was sorrow. The immediate thought was “Man…this isn’t quite as satisfying as I thought it would be” (and, truthfully, satisfaction should not be something felt at the expense of another person’s physical and emotional harm. I’d like to think that, as a fan, I relish in the art of true, practiced combat between the greatest practitioners, as opposed to the sight of a man lying unconscious or having to deal with the emotional stresses of defeat on the world’s stage). I really did feel as though, despite Bisping’s general attitude, he earned true respect when he took a fight in order to save a main event that Anderson Silva nearly destroyed due to his most recent PED accusation. It was a a seemingly impulsive move that, unfortunately, led to the worst case scenario of his defeat and ultimate removal from title contention.

Maybe he did it to redeem himself after losing his title to Georges St. Pierre, maybe he did it because he just felt the itch to fix his mistakes, or maybe he just did it because he loves to fight and can’t stay away from a challenge. It is this precise mentality that led him to his successful, last-minute title shot against Luke Rockhold, so perhaps he thought that another victory against a somewhat smaller middleweight was in his cross-hairs. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as planned, and he gave all the credit in the world to a very deserving Kelvin Gastelum, who had the performance of his career. Bisping made no excuses, took his loss on the chin, and thanked the crowd. This all just made me rethink my dislike for him…at least a little bit.

He is both the consummate professional, and the childish douchebag you just wish would get punched in the face when he starts yammering on about whatever it is he enjoys talking about. He was a questionable champion in the eyes of many, and had a largely forgettable title run which ultimately ended at the hands of a career welterweight…and yet, no one will forget how he got that title – by taking on a prime champion,  to whom he had lost previously on just 2 weeks’ notice. He is a buffoonish jerk, one not opposed to stooping to the lowest levels to get under an opponent’s skin (i.e. ripping up the Cuban flag in front of Yoel Romero, spitting in the corner of Jorge Rivera after defeating him, etc). And yet, he’s a family man, clearly a devoted father and husband who keeps his family, team, and friends in the front of his mind. He both humble and brash, bratty and surprisingly mature. He is the man that UFC fans love to hate, but then have never had the desire to take their eyes away from.

I’ve always hate you Michael Bisping…but now, just a little less. Best wishes to you in the twilight of your career, and may you end with a win.