Sunday, November 12, 2017

There were varying reactions when it was announced that Michael Bisping was stepping up to fight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 122 on November 26 in Shanghaim China. ‘The Count’ was replacing league G.O.A.T. Anderson Silva who was removed from the fight following a flagged anti-doping test. More notably still, Bisping was coming off the loss of his middleweight championship to welterweight G.O.A.T. Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 on November 4, 2017. Countless fans admired Bisping for his gallantry. However, some others harbored less positive concerns.

Bisping was given a mandatory 30 day rest period by the New York State Athletic Commission after the loss to GSP, and the Shanghai fight falls within that frame. When the rest period was reduced to 7 days, some wondered darkly if the UFC had somehow strong-armed the NYSAC into jeopardizing fighter health and safety so more tickets could be sold in Shanghai.

As the sport’s official records keeper for many years, I am intimately familiar with the issuing of mandatory rest periods. The UFC did not pressure the NYSAC into changing the rest period, or even request it.

a 7 day rest period is mandatory following fights in New York. That period can be extended in the case of a tough fight, if a fighter is suffering a run of losses, if there are known potential health conditions, and for other reasons. Too, the NYSAC is always willing to consider input from a doctor in reducing the length of a mandatory rest period.

I don’t want to get into an extended discussion of a fighter’s health history, or anyone’s. It’s unseemly, and potentially illegal. However, Michael Bisping’s vision issues are a matter of public record, addressed repeatedly by the fighter himself. Due to these sight concerns, out of an abundance of caution, the NYSAC extended Bisping’s mandatory rest period from 7 days to 30. However, expert medical opinion was offered indicating that there were no vision concerns, and thus the suspension was reduced to the mandatory 7 days.

It’s the nature of conspiracy theorists to ignore the truth, so putting it out there may do little to reduce chatter about what the UFC must have done to coerce the regulatory process. At least the truth is out there now.

The NYSAC may well in time issue a statement of clarification, but my experience has been that New York state government, in general, is extraordinary cautious in their public statements. This is particularly the case at the NYSAC, which is entirely understandable, given the recently settled $22 million lawsuit with the family of boxer Magomed Abdusalamov.

For the record, I am as ever impressed at Bisping stepping up against so tough an opponent, and so soon after an emotionally and financially devastating loss. He’s the man. And I trust, happily, that Michael Bisping is realizing financial opportunity from the fight as well, given that the window for fighting is so short, and that he is not young.