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Michael Bisping likes Georges St-Pierre fight after UFC 204 if St-Pierre has ‘finally grown a set of balls'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Bisping knows big things could be in store if he gets past his first UFC middleweight title defense against Dan Henderson at UFC 204.

Three months ago, Bisping found himself directly in the crosshairs of Georges St-Pierre when the welterweight legend declared Bisping his "first choice" as an opponent for St-Pierre's UFC return. The fight between two of the most well-traveled fighters in UFC history ultimately failed to come together, as the promotion instead granted Bisping a shot at revenge against Henderson. However, Bisping would be more than willing to revisit talks with St-Pierre after UFC 204.

"If GSP wants to come out of retirement," Bisping recently said, "if he's finally grown a set of balls to become a fighter again, (I could) beat Anderson Silva, beat Dan Henderson, beat Luke Rockhold, beat GSP? Yeah, why not. Of course."

But first Bisping will do business with Henderson, who he meets on Oct. 8 at the Manchester Arena in his hometown of Manchester, England. The fight is a rematch of the pair's notorious first meeting at UFC 100, which Henderson won in the second round with one of the most famous and brutal knockouts in the sport's history. And not surprisingly, seven years after the fact, Bisping looks back on the performance as one of the worst of his career.

"In that fight, I was very skittish," Bisping said. "I was. I wasn't committing, I was on the back foot constantly. It was just a bad performance and a bad gameplan. I was over-trained. Listen, I'm not trying to discredit him. God bless him, good for him, he got me. He got me good. What can you say? It's part of history, I'm not bitter about it. It is what it is. This is a tough sport that we're in. He got me good. And I get a chance for revenge."

Bisping has called for a second shot against Henderson for years, and the knockout has long been a thorn in his side. The image of Henderson diving onto an already unconscious Bisping to deliver one final forearm shiver has even been used by Henderson as part of his logo, although Bisping has tried over the years to be unbothered by the extra blow that he knows is simply part of the game.

"Listen, in this sport, you keep going until the referee drags you off," Bisping said. "I have no problem with it. It is was it is. We signed up for this business, I got knocked out, he followed it up. Good well done. We can sit and we can ponder as to whether he'll do it a second time -- it ain't going to happen a second time. He ain't going to land sh*t. I'm going to be all over the place, too fast, pick him apart, finish him in the later rounds."

While the rematch against the 45-year-old Henderson is not the first title defense that many could have predicted when Bisping stunned Luke Rockhold to capture the UFC middleweight belt at UFC 199, there are plenty of stakes to be found in the match-up, not the least of which is the fact that Henderson has vowed to retire after UFC 204 regardless of whether he wins or loses.

That means Bisping has a chance to send one his foremost rivals out with either disappointment or a storybook ending. But for now, Bisping is hesitant to put more pressure on himself than already exists for an inaugural defense of his UFC middleweight title.

"Of course, there's a lot to lose," Bisping said. "I'm very proud to be the world champion. I plan on hanging onto this for a long, long time. Me and Dan have history, there's a story there, a lot of people want to see it. The reaction to the fight when it was teased on social media was very big, so I get a chance for revenge. I get to get that one back off Dan, and if I lose, yeah, of course, come on, it doesn't matter who it is. If I lose, I lose the belt. Simple as that, so that's not good.

"So regardless of the opponent, I've got to win this fight."