Interim UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was at one time extremely close to fighting Michael Bisping. \u201cThe Count\u201d has just knocked out Luke Rockhold for the belt, and Whittaker would end up winning the interim title after defeating Yoel Romero. The stage was set for the two middleweights to lock horns, but injuries and Bisping\u2019s recent retirement forced the fight from ever becoming a reality. For Whittaker, however, that\u2019s not such a bad thing. When asked about Bisping\u2019s retirement and losing the opportunity to fight him, Whittaker demurred and praised \u201cThe Count\u201d: \u201cI THINK HE\u2019S A TRUE WARRIOR.\u00a0I REALLY DO. HE\u2019S DONE IT ALL. HE\u2019S LOST, HE\u2019S WON, AND HE\u2019S BECOME CHAMPION. HE\u2019S A TRUE TEST OF ENDURANCE AND DETERMINATION. I REALLY DO, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE CAN LEARN A THING OR TWO WATCHING HIS CAREER.\u201d \u201cIn terms of fighting him, from one fighter to another, there\u2019s a lot of respect in terms of wanting to fight each other. There would\u2019ve been a lot of respect there and a lot of honor earned, but I\u2019m happy not to have fought him, just due to the fact that I\u2019ve always watched him and, if I\u2019m going to be honest with myself, I\u2019m a bit of a fan of his, to be honest.\u201d Whittaker even called Bisping out after winning the interim title against Romero at UFC 213 in July 2017. At the time, Bisping had won the middleweight title and defended it once in a competitive rematch against Dan Henderson, so a title unification bout between the two seemed inevitable. Alas, it was not meant to be, as Bisping would ultimately end up taking a bigger money fight against a returning Georges St. Pierre. Bisping lost that fight and lost the belt in the process. An ill-advised quick turnaround fight against Kelvin Gastelum just weeks after the grueling GSP loss saw \u201cThe Count\u201d lose by vicious first round knockout. While he did tease a possible retirement fight, Bisping ultimately retired this past week. For Whittaker, it\u2019s all about cementing his own legacy as champion, as he prepares to take on Romero again to determine the rightful champion: \u201cCreating a legacy is one of my overall objectives in my career as a fighter,\u201d Whittaker said. \u201cAnd it didn\u2019t stop when I got sick. That is part of the legacy and that is part of my journey. Being sick and going through those turmoils and hardships is what makes the rewards so sweet, or what makes getting over those bumps and those obstacles so glorifying. \u201c is a tough guy. He\u2019s the No. 1 contender, and after beating Rockhold, he deserves a shot. He\u2019s beaten everybody else. There\u2019s just me and him now. Defending the belt doesn\u2019t mean much to me. My ultimate goal is just to fight the top dogs, the boogeymen, the bad guys. So I look forward to fighting Romero.\u201d Would you have like to have seen Whittaker and Bisping fight before "The Count's" retirement?