Last night the mixed martial arts world was beset with the somewhat shocking news that longtime veteran Michael Bisping was officially retiring from the sport after a 14-year career.

Following two consecutive losses, the 39-year-old had discussed retirement somewhat frequently in recent months, but it was thought he would do just that after one final farewell fight – a fight which he was potentially matched up against a who’s who of MMA talent such as Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Luke Rockhold, and Vitor Belfort.

But ‘The Count’ revealed he had been suffering from a vitreous detachment in his left eye following his short-notice knockout loss to Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai last November. The injury was especially concerning because of Bisping’s well-documented history of detached retina issues in his left eye.

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With his vision at stake, no one could blame Bisping for retiring instead of pushing his luck with one final fight at nearly 40 years of age, and indeed the majority of the MMA world met the news of his retirement with an outpouring of support for the man who owns the records for most wins in the UFC, most fights in the UFC, and most significant strikes landed in competition.

‘The Count’ thanked his fans on Twitter for their support, saying he was simply ‘blown away’ by the good wishes he’d received:

It hasn’t been all hugs and buttercups, however, as many of Bisping’s haters have taken the moment of his retirement to focus on the fact that he may have received some incredibly favorable decisions in his favor, namely his wins over Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson in two of the most pivotal bouts of his career.

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Regardless, Bisping was a true fighter, and iron man who never said no to a challenge and made up for what he may have lacked in pure talent with heart and toughness.

He wasn’t the most dominant champion in UFC history by a long stretch, but he was one of the most dedicated fighters in UFC history. And for that, ‘The Count’ deserved every last one of his congratulations and well wishes, and also our respect for knowing when to get out of the game – something even few top fighters know when to do.

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Happy trails, Count.

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