Upon St-Pierre announcing his return, UFC president Dana White declared that the former welterweight kingpin would challenge Bisping for the middleweight belt in his first fight back. The one problem? St-Pierre may be taking longer to return than Bisping is willing to wait.
Bisping had UFC 213 on July 8 pinned as the target for the fight, but St-Pierre has recently indicated that International Fight Week would be too soon. The champ, 38 years old, doesn’t want to wait much longer than that.
“I heard that he wanted like September or October and that is what the UFC told me as well,” said Bisping on his podcast. “But I am just throwing it out there right now. If he wants to wait until September or October, then he can go find himself another opponent.”
Bisping said that he would be more than willing to give No. 1 contender Yoel Romero a shot first if St-Pierre won’t be ready until fall or winter. Woodley, who has noted on several occasions that he wants “big money fights,” has injected himself into the equation, as well.
He doesn’t seem to be a believer that St-Pierre is even coming back. Woodley, casting doubt upon St-Pierre, tweeted Wednesday morning that he would be more than willing to face Bisping on July 8. He reiterated that sentiment on UFC Tonight Wednesday evening.
“I think Georges St-Pierre is playing games with us,” said Woodley. “He didn’t want to fight me, he went up to middleweight, talking about going down to lightweight. Michael Bisping, I stand on my offer, ten toes down. If you want to get it on July 8, I will be there and I will be ready.”
UFC officials have yet to comment on the situation, but it’s more likely that the promotion would put Bisping against Romero than Woodley if St-Pierre delays too long. The promotion needs big fights, but likes to include champions to head up their pay-per-views. With several on the sidelines to begin 2017, it’s unlikely that they’d want to tie up two divisions with a fight between two of its titleholders when Bisping vs. Romero might be the more highly anticipated match-up in the first place.
UFC 213 on July 8 is a centerpiece of the promotion’s 2017 schedule, so they’ll have to start putting the marquee fights together soon. We’ll likely get more clarity in the next few weeks, but until then, we’ll have to wait and see how the situation pans out.