Michael Bisping feels “very lucky” to have enjoyed a great UFC career after becoming “obsessed” with mixed martial arts in his youth.
Born in Cyprus but raised in Lancashire, Bisping became Britain’s first UFC champion when he sensationally knocked out rival Luke Rockhold in June 2016 to claim the middleweight belt.
‘The Count’ puts that result high on the list of his achievements inside the octagon, particularly as he took the fight at short notice and had previously lost to Rockhold.
Bisping went on to successfully defend the title on home soil in Manchester, defeating Dan Henderson, while his impressive resume also includes a victory over the legendary Anderson Silva.
“Beating Anderson Silva at the time was massive – I always wanted to fight him for obvious reasons, he was a long-time champion and the greatest of all time,” Bisping – speaking following the launch of his autobiography ‘Quitters Never Win’ – told Omnisport.
“But then I fought for the belt and won the belt, so winning the title obviously trumps that. Then defending the belt in Manchester, in England, was definitely a high point.
“I’m very lucky I’ve had a great career – many highs and several lows as well. It was great.”
Bisping’s success came during a boom period for UFC, though it was a fictional boxing character with a never-give-up attitude who helped inspire him when growing up.
“I started off doing martial arts when I was eight years old. I loved action movies and martial arts movies when I was a kid and the ‘Rocky’ movies particularly,” he explained.
“I was inspired by those types of movies and then my older brother Konrad went to a jiu-jitsu class and I tagged along and just fell in love with it. I became obsessed with martial arts.
“My dad would drive me all over the country going to tournaments and things and I always had a lot of success at it and really enjoyed it. Then, as I got older, it seemed like a natural progression.
“Mixed martial arts was doing well, it was getting bigger and bigger, more money becoming involved with the sport and unfortunately I didn’t go down the whole education route either, so my options were limited but I know with my martial arts background this was a viable option.”
The 40-year-old announced his retirement in 2018 having kept secret a spell in prison prior to his MMA career. However, he was happy to be honest about his past while writing the book.
“I did have a little couple of brushes with the law when I was younger and I always kept that [time in prison] quiet until now because I didn’t want that stigma to effect myself, or the public perception of the sport, so it wasn’t necessarily important,” Bisping revealed.
“I kept that to myself, but obviously if I am going to write a book, I’ve got to tell the truth and I have to be honest.”