A middleweight title defense against Dan Henderson, the man behind the worst loss of Bisping's career. Another defense against Georges St-Pierre, one of the greatest of all time. And a third against the division's legitimate No. 1 contender -- for those who said Bisping wouldn't do it.
But like many retirement plans in MMA, Bisping's fell apart. He defeated Henderson in October 2016, but he suffered back-to-back losses in 2017 and announced his departure from the Octagon last week.
"When I fought 'GSP' and lost the belt [in November], I should have retired there and then," Bisping told ESPN. "I kind of knew.
"My plan was to defend the belt three times. Henderson, Georges, the No. 1 contender -- then call it a day. Obviously, I didn't win the second fight, so we didn't get that far. But that was the plan."
"The time was right, honestly. It feels like a massive burden has been lifted off my shoulders, because I was always second-guessing, always thinking, 'Am I gonna fight once more?' Now, it's done." Michael Bisping
Bisping, of Manchester, England, exits the sport with nothing to prove. He won a title in 2016, and with 20 wins in the UFC he is tied for the most ever.
He also has plenty to keep him busy. He'll be a commentator on the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender series this summer, and is in the process of opening 110 UFC Gyms in the United Kingdom. He also owns a fantasy sports website, Playline.com, and would like to try coaching at some point.
Still, the 39-year-old admits it's hard to walk away. Even after he announced retirement on his "Believe You Me" podcast last week, he waffled on the subject in a follow-up conversation with UFC president Dana White.
"I've always wanted to leave the door open," Bisping said. "Dana called me, and I even tried to dig my way out of it then. He said, 'Hey, Mike, are you sure about this?' And I almost talked myself out of it. It kind of came to a point where I had to make it final."
One way to make retirement more final is withdrawing from the UFC's year-round drug testing program, which Bisping has done. If he ever wishes to fight again, he would need to re-enroll in the program for at least six months.
"The UFC emailed me and said, 'Do you want to be left in the testing pool, just in case?'" Bisping said. "And I said, 'No. Take me out.'
"The time was right, honestly. It feels like a massive burden has been lifted off my shoulders, because I was always second-guessing, always thinking, 'Am I gonna fight once more?' Now, it's done."
A key part of Bisping's decision was preserving what's left of the health of his eyes. He suffered a detached right retina in 2013 and has spent the past five years worrying a commission would pull his license over medical concerns.
He saw flashes of light in his left eye last year after his final fight, a knockout loss to Kelvin Gastelum. The condition is now under control, but it worried him initially.
"My right eye was constantly a worry," Bisping said. "The legal requirement to fight is 20/100 vision. That's not very good, and I passed by the skin of my teeth. I was always worried, every single fight, that perhaps I would get there and the commission would take a look at my eye and pull me.
"My left sees perfectly fine, but it's at a higher chance of a detached retina. When that happened after my last fight, it panicked me.
"I'm ready to focus on other things, and I wouldn't have been able to if I didn't commit to retirement. I want to commentate for the Contender Series, and then move on to calling UFC fights. That's the plan."