Aussie in line to claim undisputed champion title
MICHAEL Bisping says he could retire after fighting Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 - potentially opening the door for Robert Whittaker to become undisputed middleweight champion without throwing a punch.
Bisping was again matched against St-Pierre after confirmation that Australian Whittaker, the interim 185-pound (84kg) champion, would be inactive for the remainder of the year due to injury.
Bisping versus GSP had been canned by UFC boss Dana White due to clashing timelines for the fighters but the match-up came back together to headline a Madison Square Garden card featuring three title bouts on November 5 (AEST).
While it will be a comeback fight after four years in retirement for GSP, Bisping, 38, says it may draw the curtain on his own MMA career, which stands at 31-7-0.
If Bisping wins and retires, that would seemingly leave Whittaker (20-4-0) to be elevated to full champion. A recent precedent saw Jose Aldo elevated from interim featherweight champ to full champion after Conor McGregor was forced to give up his 145-pound belt, shortly after "The Notorious" won the lightweight title in November last year.
Should GSP (25-2-0) win, Whittaker, 26, could get a dream unification fight against the Canadian legend, 36, sometime next year.
Bisping rates himself a "50-50" chance of retiring after fighting GSP, which will be his second title defence after beating Dan Henderson in October last year.
"I think the career I've had, the years I've been in the UFC, the injuries I've had, the ups and downs, getting close to title fights and all of this, there's a possibility this might be my last ever fight. I don't know if I'll fight again after this. So, what a way to go out if it is," Bisping told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.
Bisping has been one of the UFC's true warriors, with 27 fights in the promotion spanning back to 2006 - his The Ultimate Fighter 3 win over Josh Haynes. He claimed the middleweight title in June last year, shocking Luke Rockhold with a round-one KO after fighting as a late injury replacement, while he has also suffered a permanent eye injury during his career, in a brutal 2013 loss to Vitor Belfort.
"Just, I've been here for so long," Bisping explained. "I've done it for so long now, and there's other things to do in life.
"I mean, I still love this, don't get me wrong. But you can't do it forever. You can't do it forever, and Georges - Georges should've stayed retired. He should've retired as a champion. I'm going to beat Georges and I'll retire as a champion, maybe. I haven't made my mind up on that yet. It depends.