Since 2013, former UFC middleweight champion and Hall-of-Famer Michael Bisping had been dealing with a nasty eye injury. Over the years, “The Count” repeatedly attributed the said injury to his Vitor Belfort fight earlier that year.
Unfortunately for Bisping, that eye problem led to missed opportunities at the time. He did, however, bounce back big and even became the undisputed 185-pound champion in 2016.
Around 2017, Bisping’s eye had just gotten worse. That same year, he was slated to defend the title for the second time against the returning Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217. Knowing the condition of his eye, Bisping knew it would be a challenge to get the green light from doctors. But he had to do what needed to be done.
When asked by Joe Rogan how he managed to pass his medicals, here was his response.
“With great difficulty. Lying, cheating, bullshit codes. I f—ng lied to so many doctors,” Bisping said in his recent appearance on the JRE MMA Show.
Bisping recounted an instance when he went into the doctor’s office to have his eye checked. As he was left alone in the testing area, he decided to memorize the eye exam.
“The doctor doesn’t know that I’m trying to cheat the test. He thinks I’m f—ng trying to check on my vision like a normal person. So he covers up my bad eye, first. And he says, ‘What can you see?’ I got through it all,” he recalled.
As the doctor checked on his damaged eye, Bisping said he “couldn’t see a f–ng thing.” So he had to rely on a “couple of shitty acting lessons” that “had paid off.”
“(The doctor’s) like, ‘OK, you passed,’” Bisping recounted. “He said, ‘Listen, you’ve passed to fight. But I wouldn’t fight because if anything happens to your good eye, you’re gonna go blind.’ And then, I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right, doc. I’ll give it some thought.’”
Bisping had to go through another medical exam during the day of the weigh-ins. This time, he sought the help of his coach Jason Parillo.
“They just didn’t check very good,” Bisping said with a laugh. “I had a code with Parillo. He always came in with me. And I sit back ‘cause all they’ve gotta do… ‘cause now, this is a prosthetic lens. I only got this in 2018. Without the prosthetic lens, it looks awful.
“All I thought they gotta do is look at the eye and say, ‘How many fingers can you see?’ So I said to Parillo, ‘If he holds up one finger, you (clear your throat). If he holds up two, yawn, whatever.’ We just came up with these shitty codes.
“But we never had to use it once, ‘cause I remember once, the doctor (asked), ‘You can see out of that eye, right?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, of course!’ I said, ‘I’ve got all the paperwork.’ (He said), ‘OK, cool.’ That was it.”
Given the dangers of what he was getting himself into, Bisping had the option to forgo the fight and prioritize his health. But because of his financial situation at the time, he says he was left with no choice.
“I’d just moved to America, bought this stupid, big house that I didn’t need,” Bisping explained. “I had a lawsuit going on with my former management, which is completely fabricated. Legal fees were just incredible. I couldn’t quit. I’d no choice. I had to still fight.
“Now, life’s great, but back then, I was still very much financially struggling. I had to fight this court case, and that was costing a fortune. And it’s all I knew at that time.”
Bisping lost to St-Pierre via third-round submission, along with the middleweight belt. He was back in action 21 days later in Shanghai, China against Kelvin Gastelum and was knocked out in one round. Bisping retired in May 2018 and ended his career with a record of 30-9.
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