THE SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: In-depth look at Michael Bisping’s challenges to GSP and Nick Diaz

By D.R. Webster, MMATorch contributor

Michael Bisping on FS1's UFC Tonight

Michael Bisping is looking to strike while the iron is hot and continue his streak of big fights and big wins. He has targeted UFC 206 for his next fight, which will take place only around two months after his UFC Middleweight Title defense in his hometown of Manchester, England against Dan Henderson.

Two names that Bisping has in his sights are none other than Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. Neither men have fought in the UFC in a while and their returns would be big news, particularly in the case of GSP.

Bisping previously shot down rumors regarding at fight with GSP at UFC 206. However, this week Bisping claimed that he had verbally agreed to fight GSP at UFC 206 after being offered the fight by UFC President, Dana White, with the ball being in GSP’s court in regards to signing the contact for it.

This, of course, clashes with the situation between UFC and GSP at the moment as covered in last week’s Sunday SupplementGSP declared himself a free agent last week and Dana White continued to shoot down the rumors of a GSP return, especially at UFC 206 in his home country of Canada.

GSP had named Bisping as a possible opponent when he discussed a possible return on The MMA Hour back in the Summer and, of course, denied Dana White’s claims about him not wanting to fight again.

GSP replied to Michael Bisping’s challenge just hours after it had been issued in a Twitter video. “Nothing would make me more happy in the world, (than) to fight you in Toronto, Michael,” he said, while maintaining that his contract was now terminated.

However, he also mentioned that he has still been in talks with the UFC, naming Ari Emanuel and Dana White as the two people that he has been in touch with, even going as far to say that he had made peace with Dana White. This is a big step after last week’s contract drama and it’s looking even more likely that GSP will fight once again in the UFC.

Dana White confirmed that the two are now on good terms in a message to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix “My relationship has never been better with GSP, “I’m glad we got together.”

In addition, White added that if GSP fights again, it will be under the UFC banner, claiming GSP is still under contract and not a free agent.

Despite these promising developments between both parties, a fight at UFC 206 still looks unlikely at this point, meaning that Michael Bisping will have to look elsewhere for an opponent if he wants to fight on the UFC 206 card in Canada.

However, as ever, Bisping is on the ball and moved straight from GSP to begin building another possible big fight, challenging a former GSP opponent and star in his own right, the big brother of Nate Diaz, none other than Nick Diaz.

“If it’s not ‘GSP,’ I don’t mind being on the card against somebody else,” he said on his Sirius XM show this week. “And Nick Diaz would be somebody else that moves the needle.”

Diaz hasn’t fought since Jan. 31, 2015, in a fight against Anderson Silva which he lost by unanimous decision which was then overturned to a No Contest after Silva tested positive for Steroids. Diaz was then suspended later in the year for testing positive for marijuana in the pre-fight testing for the Silva fight. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Diaz for five years and fined him $165,000. Following an appeal four months later in January 2016, the suspension and fine were reduced to 18 months and $100,000 and then the suspension was officially lifted on August 1st of this year.

If GSP isn’t available, then a fight with Nick Diaz could be a good replacement choice. He hasn’t fought in almost two years which would be a selling point for the fight. Diaz is known for taking on big fights like Bisping. His last four fights have been against huge names like GSP, B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva, and Carlos Condit, and both men are willing to brawl which could lead to an exciting fight.

For a last minute fight, it would be a significant addition to UFC 206, a card which has disappointed some so far. It would add another layer to it and draw in more people for the show.

“I’ll fight anybody as long as it makes sense business-wise,” Bisping said. “I’m not going to risk my reputation and my title against some chump, but if there’s money on the line, then I’ll do it.”

A fight against Diaz would tick all the boxes for him. His title is safe and he gets to fight a big name and make some more big money to close out what has been the biggest year of his career.

After just defending the UFC Middleweight Title on Oct. 8 in a tough fight and, in some people’s eyes, losing the fight to Dan Henderson, he doesn’t want to jeopardize his championship status, despite a lot of worthy title contenders in the Middleweight Division at the moment. That list includes Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero, as well as former champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman. Business-wise this makes sense for Bisping, another big money fight before he likely loses the Middleweight Title in a dangerous division after coming close against Henderson.

Bisping is smart to milk this great run for all it’s worth. It will likely be his one and only title run in the UFC and he is on a win streak.

Like Conor McGregor, if he can hold a belt while taking on big fights outside of the title picture in his division, then why not? He is not as big a star as McGregor, of course, but if he can talk the UFC into giving him these fights and making more money, then it makes total sense for his career rather than defending his title right away again.

For Diaz, it’s a way back into the UFC and a chance to beat a current UFC Champion. Diaz last won a fight in 2011, so a win here against a hot Bisping would be a good statement to make upon his return.

We haven’t heard anything from Diaz yet. Diaz is fighter at heart and I’m sure if this fight is on the table he will take it, which would add another name value fight to the UFC 206 card. However, the shadow of GSP still looms over this card and would loom large over a Bisping-Diaz fight.

Nothing will make the UFC 206 card as big of a deal as a GSP return would have made it. The good news is that GSP and the UFC are now on better terms this week, so a GSP return looks to be back on table and could happen sooner rather than later.

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: In-depth look at George St. Pierre and his ongoing saga with UFC.

(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, includinv review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)

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