On March 1, UFC president Dana White announced that former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre would be returning to the Octagon for the first time since November 2013 to take on middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping later this year. The announcement was not received well by the middleweight contenders.
Top contender Yoel Romero was promised the next title shot and has called for an interim title bout while he waits for Bisping to fight St-Pierre. Former champion Luke Rockhold called the match-up a “joke.”
Rockhold holds a win over Bisping, but Bisping captured the title by knocking Rockhold out at UFC 199. Since winning the belt, Bisping has not faced a legitimate contender. His first title defense was against 46-year-old Dan Henderson at UFC 204. Heading into the fight, Henderson was coming off of a win, but hadn’t put together a two-fight winning streak since 2011. Bisping will face St-Pierre in his second title defense, and Rockhold doesn’t think it’s sound matchmaking.
“I think there’s a certain pool of guys that you can pick from, and you should stay with the top five or so guys depending on the champion, where the champion’s at, and who he’s beat,” he said during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “I understand that there’s an entertainment value and to some level you can go with that. Conor (McGregor) can jump up. He can fight at the next weight class and try to take that next belt. But making moves like Georges St-Pierre and Bisping is a joke.”
In the McGregor era, everyone is looking for “big money” fights, and the fight promotion is willing to step outside the rankings to put them together. But Rockhold doesn’t think Bisping vs. St-Pierre is a big money money fight and that the match-up makes “no sense.”
“Georges has never fought at middleweight and he’s been out for four years. It makes no sense. I understand that there’s a debt to pay, but there’s better ways to do it. There are other fights that are bigger. You talk about money fights, Bisping is not a money fight, so you might as well put (St-Pierre) against a Nick Diaz or Anderson Silva.”