UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping will serve as the welcoming party for former welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre‘s return to the Octagon. UFC president Dana White revealed the match-up earlier this week, while falling short of name an event or date for the bout.
The announcement, of course, put the middleweight division’s top contenders in a tizzy. The calls of Bisping ducking them rang out across the internet, especially since it has been more than three years since St-Pierre set foot in the Octagon and has only ever done so as a welterweight.
So why is Bisping ducking the top fighters?
The answer is, he’s not. Bisping has denied that he is avoiding anyone, but he is at peace with the idea that there is a wave of criticism for his decision to fight St-Pierre instead of facing one of the current crop of top middleweight contenders.
“Georges is coming back out of retirement after three and a half years, and he’s stepping up to 185 (pounds) to face myself. Of course, there’s many contenders in the middleweight division. They will get their comeuppance, don’t you worry about them. Jacare, Yoel, whatever your name is, don’t worry, I’ll get to you after I’ve taken care of GSP,” Bisping said on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight.
“I know there’s people out there that are gonna criticize me, saying that I should fight the No. 1 contender, guys like Yoel Romero, and they’re absolutely right. But I’ll put this question to you right now, if you’re Yoel Romero or Luke Rockhold or Jacare (Souza), or any of these guys, if you were offered a fight with GSP, I know for a fact that you are gonna take that fight. So, why shouldn’t I do the same?” he continued.
“I deserve this payday. I deserve this fight. I want this fight for my legacy. I’ve beat Dan Henderson. I’ve beat Anderson Silva. Georges St-Pierre is another legend that I want to add to my resume.”
It’s not a fight that Bisping was begging for, but one that he believes would be ridiculous to pass up. As he explained, it is a fight that would go a long way toward solidifying his legacy should he win. With St-Pierre’s record of being one of the most significant draws in the promotion’s history, it also means a significant payday is in the offing.
“This fight was actually offered me around last October, and the fight didn’t come to fruition. I believe that Georges couldn’t agree to terms with the UFC. So I kind of put that fight out of my mind and I started thinking about the next contenders in the UFC,” Bisping recounted.
“I got a call about a week ago from Dana White saying, ‘Listen, the fight’s back on the table. Georges wants to fight you. It’s a big fight.’ Of course, I said yes. Georges is a legendary fighter. He’s had one of the best careers, if not the best career in the history of the sport. He was a dominant welterweight champion for a long, long time. He’s one of the biggest pay-per-view draws that the company has ever seen. So, of course, taking this fight was an absolute no-brainer.”
Bisping knows it won’t be an easy fight, but at 37 years of age, he only has so many years left to leave his mark on the sport. He’s bound and determined to do so.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for Georges. For me, beating Georges, beating Anderson Silva, beating Dan Henderson, beating Luke Rockhold, beating all these great guys, for me, it really puts an exclamation mark on my career. When I’m done, when I’m retired, I’ll be a happy man.”