Bisping gets good news on eye injury

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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


The last couple of weeks have been harder on Michael Bisping than any fight he's experienced inside the Octagon.

With the days counting down until his scheduled fight against Mark Munoz in his home country in England, Bisping started to experience trouble with his eyesight, which was troubling after he had surgery earlier this year for a detached retina following his bout against Alan Belcher at UFC 159.

The final diagnosis was the news Bisping didn't want to hear — his retina had detached again and he was forced to pull out of his fight against Munoz. In addition to that bad news, Bisping was also hit with the information that depending on how his eye heals, he could potentially lose his sight and his fight career could be over.

"Obviously I had a detached retina, that was all healing nicely and then through the training camp the retina re-detached as we all know. It was just one of those things. It wasn't down to anything, just some scar tissue developed around the retina and caused it to re-detach. It wasn't the training, it wasn't the sparring or anything like that. It was just bad luck," Bisping explained when speaking to FOX Sports on Wednesday.

"I had another surgery to reattach the retina again and then last week I had further complications, there's a drain in your eye where fluid drains out and that got blocked up and the fluid in my eye got really, really high, caused me a lot of pain. I had to go to the doctors to have that taken care of. Since then, I've not been able to do anything really. The doctors have said I can't train, I can't run, I can't exercise or anything in any way whatsoever. I've been blind in my eye ever since then. The whole whether or not I'm fighting again was up in the air."

Bisping's life for the past decade has revolved around getting up pretty much every day and heading to the gym, preparing for his next fight and continuing his climb up the ranks towards an eventual title shot. Potentially having all of that taken away in a literal blink of an eye, Bisping admittedly sunk into a deep depression unable to think about a reality where fighting wasn't his job any longer.

Luckily, Bisping received some much needed good news on Wednesday when he visited his doctors to find out the current progress on his eye. While it will still be months before he can return to full training there is no doubt any longer — Bisping will return to the Octagon.

"I've just been in the doctors now and they said to me everything's looking fantastic. They've cleared me to exercise again, which is great because I was going out of my mind. They said 100-percent I will definitely fight again, and I should start to see some very, very rapid improvement in my vision pretty soon," Bisping said. "I've been cleared to fight and I've been cleared to exercise again. So today is a good day. I'm a happy man."

Now Bisping's return to action will be a marathon and not a sprint, so the approach to his recovery is slow and easy without pushing beyond his limits. It's been a wave of emotion for the former Ultimate Fighter winner going from the highs of fight preparation to the lows of actually believing his career may be over all the way back to the fantastic news he received from his doctors on Wednesday.

Hearing the official word that he will return to the UFC in 2014 was like lifting a weight off his chest, and now he can get his mental acuity aimed at a return to action when his eye heals to full strength.

"To be honest I don't want to rush it because I don't want to be in this position again," Bisping said. "Probably several months before I can do anything like that. I think I should be able to fight again in six months. Maybe late February or March, you should be in the Octagon again.

"I've been pretty down in the dumps, pretty depressed. I was looking forward to this fight, I love competing. I love being a professional fighter and fighting in the UFC. It's one thing to pull out of the fight, but then to learn that I might never fight again. It's certainly been a depressing couple of weeks. Fortunately now things are looking really good. The doctors are happy and they're keeping a close eye on me. I'm elated, I'm really happy, I'm in high spirits right now."

As for his plans today, Bisping only has one thing on his mind. After spending weeks buried on his couch at home with a patch covering his damaged eye catching up on hours of television, nothing will feel sweeter than driving his car to the gym and just being able to work out again. He's still not ready to punch anyone in the face just yet, but his first baby step towards recovery is a big one.

"I've been doing some hardcore Sopranos watching, Homeland, I've been catching up on some good shows, but I certainly miss going to the gym," Bisping said with a laugh. "Right now, as soon as I get home I'm putting some stuff on and heading down to 24-Hour Fitness and just moving around. That's really good."

Bisping will only be able to do conditioning workouts as well as lifting weights for the next few months before his doctors give him clearance to actually begin fight training again. Once he receives the go ahead, most likely towards the tail end of 2013, Bisping can begin stomping a path back to the Octagon sending warning shots towards the entire middleweight division that he's back.

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