The ink is barely dry on the fight contract between Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre, and already everybody has something to say about it.
UFC announced early Wednesday afternoon that Georges St. Pierre will make his return to UFC against Michael Bisping in a UFC Middleweight Championship fight. A date and venue have yet to be established, but UFC President Dana White did tell TSN that the fight will likely take place in Las Vegas. A press conference is scheduled for Friday at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena.
GSP will be competing at 185 pounds for the first time in his career and is a fight that GSP has been talking about since last year. Being a chosen opponent of GSP is something Bisping takes offense with.
“He chose me because he thinks he can beat me,” he said during an appearance on UFC Tonight. “I trained with him 11 years ago and he outwrestled me. Now back then I was a kickboxer from England, I didn’t know a double leg from a double decker bus. But every time we trained, he’d take me down. He thinks I’m still that guy. He thinks I’m an easy opponent, an easy pick. He picked me to come out of retirement, moving up a weight class, it’s almost like he has nothing to lose, but if he moves up a weight class, he beats me, he becomes a legend.”
GSP doesn’t see this as an easy fight, but more of a challenge after dominating at welterweight for the better part of seven years. In a post on the Hayabusa Instagram account last week, St. Pierre said that he feels he is in the best shape of his life and that he could beat the GSP that reigned over the welterweight division before stepping away in 2013.
Despite the long-awaited return of St-Pierre and the potential history that would be made should he win, some fans were hoping for a different fight for GSP. One of those dream fights fans were asking for was a battle with current lightweight champion Conor McGregor, but Dana White was quick to shoot down that possibility, saying that he was “not even close” to putting the fight together. White also agreed with Bisping that GSP likely sees him as an easy fight.
“Let’s be honest here – everyone wants to take a shot at Michael Bisping,” White said when announcing the Bisping fight. “They think he’s beatable, and obviously Georges St-Pierre is no different. So he’s going to step up and try to take his 185-pound title.”
And while Bisping and GSP settle things, the rest of the Middleweight Division will have to wait for it to play out. The former presumed top contender to Bisping’s title, Yoel Romero, sent out a series of Tweets telling a story of a man who once cut in front of him in line for food. “I will have revenge soon,” he closed with.
Hopefully, for Romero and UFC fans, some clarity, including a date and place, will be announced on Friday.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This wasn’t my first pick for GSP’s comeback fight at all. It makes sense in that GSP and Bisping are contemporaries and it is a relatively safe fight for GSP to take. Bisping isn’t a major threat to knock him out and he should be able to implement his wrestling game to take the title and join the select ranks of two-weight UFC champions. With McGregor not being a realistic option right now, and with his former training partner Stephen Thompson tied up in the Welterweight Title picture, Bisping was the logical choice for GSP at this point in time. It’s really too bad for the rest of the division as it is one of the most talent-rich divisions in UFC right now, and Bisping winning the title had already thrown a wrench into it and now his first two title defenses will be against aged opponents outside of the top 10. In the meantime, the top contenders will have to fight each other and hopefully, one clear contender emerges once everything plays itself out. I’d like to see the GSP-Bisping fight take place in Montreal, as I feel they deserve it after getting some lackluster cards and declining interest in the market recently, but it looks like it will be in Vegas, which is where they can charge the most for tickets. Hopefully, the fight takes place this summer rather than the fall, so as not to hold up the division for too long.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-GSP has opened as a slight betting favorite over Michael Bisping, but it’s close. The current line from Odessa.com has GSP at -125 and Bisping at -105.
-Jeremy Stephens vs. Renato Moicano has been announced for the April 15 UFC on Fox card from Kansas City.
-UFC 209 Embedded episodes 3 and 4 have been posted.
Watch the first Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson fight from UFC 205 and decide for yourself who you think won. Watch it HERE.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)