Former UFC middleweight champion, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping has revealed that his well-documented eye injuries were to blame for his cancelled retirement rematch with former light heavyweight best, Rashad Evans back in 2018 – rather than a contract dispute.
Bisping, 41, had reached the top of the mountain back in June of 2016, stopping arch-rival, Luke Rockhold in the opening round of their UFC 199 rematch, to claim champion status ten years after his Ultimate Fighter triumph over Josh Haynes. The British striker managed a successful title defence against another former-foe, Dan Henderson in his next outing – a homecoming in Manchester.
The now colour-commentator and analyst dropped the championship to all-time great and former 170-pound titleholder, Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 in November of 2017 – before making a quick turnaround to meet with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night Shanghai just three weeks later, after one-time opponent, Anderson Silva had been notified of a potential anti-doping violation by USADA.
After the loss to Gastelum, Bisping announced his retirement in December – detailing how he was beginning to suffer from issues with his good eye. Speaking with Colin Crandall from the MMA Power Hour, the UFC Hall of Fame inductee explained how he was set to feature at UFC Fight Night London on March 17th. 2017 – in a retirement rematch with Evans, but was forced out due to complications with his good eye, having suffered his original eye injury in 2013. Bisping would go on to remove his prosthetic eye once again on camera.
“It was 2013 when it (eye injury) happened,” Bisping said. “If any of your viewers are watching this and thinking, ‘wow, his eyes look totally fine – in fact they’re very, very dreamy,’ it’s because it’s a prosthetic. That’s what it usually looks like, there you go, I’ll just put that (prosthetic eye) back in for you. You got an exclusive there buddy! You’re a good interviewer and I like talking to you so I thought I’d give you something. People ask me to do that and I say ‘no’, I’m not a circus sideshow.“
Bisping then told how the eye injury led to “a lot of dark times” in his life, and how a documentary will be released later this year in which the injury he suffered to his right eye will be detailed.
“Someone was on steroids, they kicked me in the head, I got a detached retina,” Bisping explained. “Then, it reattached, then I got glaucoma, then I developed scar tissue which caused it to detach again. I was just vert unlucky – whatever can go wrong with an eye, went wrong. Surgery after surgery, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, a lot of dark times. I got told several times that I would never fight again but I was able to find a way to do it. You’ll find all those details in my documentary which comes out later this year called, ‘Bisping’ I think it’s going to be called that, or maybe ‘Built For This’ – I’m not sure what it’s going to be called, title in progress, but still it was tough. It was a tough time it really was, and it’s still tough to this day.“
The 41-year-old revealed his knockout defeat to the aforementioned, Gastelum in Shanghai, resulted in the emergence of some problems in his other eye.
“That’s the reason why I retired,” Bisping said. “The doctor said, ‘you’ve only got one [good] eye. What if something happens to my good eye? I thought, well lightenings not going to strike twice. Most people have a UFC career and don’t get a detached retina, or lose vision in an eye, there’s no way that’s going to happen twice. I lost my title to GSP (Georges St-Pierre), two weeks later Anderson Silva tests positive for steroids and I knew I was pretty much done. I was almost retired, and I thought, ‘maybe one or two more fights’ and I flew out to China on two-weeks notice. I got caught with a shot and started having problems with my good eye. I have what’s called a vitreous detachment in my good eye, and if I look to my left, I get a flash. I gotta be careful because I could get a detached retina in my good eye, which will essentially leave me blind.“
Bisping and the previously noted Evans originally clashed back at UFC 78 in November of 2007, where Evans toppled his fellow TUF victor with a razor-thin split decision win. According to Bisping, the two were ready to lock horns in March of 2018 – until he suffered damage to his other eye.
“Well I was gonna take another fight,” Bisping told. “I was supposed to fight Rashad Evans in London, and a friend of mine called me up and said, ‘Michael, what are you doing?’ he said why are you doing it? I said, well the money. I did very well the UFC paid me handsomely, and that’s why I did it – I was trying to give my family a better life, and I’m like, ‘one more fight, one more fight and I’ll call it a day, and he said ‘Michael, what if you go blind? You would give every single penny that you had to get your vision back, wouldn’t you?’ and I said, ‘Yeah I would’, and he said, ‘Well what are you doing then?’ I thought you’re absolutely right it’s not worth it. So, yeah, I have a podcast called, Believe You Me, the next day on the podcast, I announced it. I’m retired.“