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Morning Report: Michael Bisping’s coach says Kelvin Gastelum is ‘a bigger threat’ than Georges St-Pierre

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Just two weeks ago, Michael Bisping was the UFC middleweight champion, set to defend his title against all-time great, Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre ended up submitting Bisping with a third-round rear-naked choke to claim the 185-pound title. Now, Bisping is merely one week away from taking on another former welterweight-turned-middleweight contender, and this one could be an even tougher fight than his last one.

Bisping’s striking coach Jason Parillo recently spoke with the ESPN Five Rounds podcast about Bisping’s upcoming fight against ninth-ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum, calling Gastelum a “a bigger threat” than St-Pierre was to Bisping.

“Really, Kelvin is, in my opinion, on the feet, a tougher fight than Georges St-Pierre,” said Parillo. “It’s not like Mike’s a guy that shoots and wrestles all the time so obviously it’s gonna be a lot of stand up fighting and this guy’s a bigger threat than I think that even Georges was.”

St-Pierre was the long-time welterweight kingpin of the UFC who retired from the sport with his belt and was lured out after almost four years by the opportunity to take on Bisping for the middleweight strap. Bisping was extremely confident going into the bout and the loss “mentally wounded” him, causing the former champion to jump at the opportunity to get right back on the horse after Anderson Silva was pulled from his UFC Shanghai main event spot against Gastelum for failing a USADA drug test. Parillo says that while a super quick turn around like this could be a reckless move for most fighters, fighting less than a month apart is actually an advantage for Bisping because he’s already mentally focused.

“This guy’s got a different mind frame. Is it gonna hurt or help him? We’re gonna find out. . . You can look at it both ways. I’m looking that it’s a good thing that Michael wants to do. It’s something that he’s very happy about the decision that he made to do this, so we’ve got to ride that positive mind into this fight and hope for the best.”

Positive mind state or not, Bisping’s quick turnaround has been a point of discussion among some as the former title holder was dropped by a punch from St-Pierre and badly hurt before being choked unconscious. Taking a fight with a hard-hitting striker like Gastelum so soon after being knocked down could be cause for concern, especially if Gastelum is, as Parillo said, a bigger threat on the feet than St-Pierre. But ultimately, Parillo says that fighting anyone is a dangerous proposition and concerns or not, they’re going into UFC Shanghai to win.

“I’m concerned with everybody. If the guy’s got two arms and two legs and breathes, there’s a concern. You’ve got to try to look at the concern of it but you’ve also gotta support your athlete and go in there with a positive mind frame. I know Michael can beat Kelvin Gastelum. I know Michael could beat GSP. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that Michael would’ve started running away with it had we got to that fourth round.

“Mike is a world champion and he can fight any guy on the planet. Is there a question about how he’s gonna be mentally with how close this fight is? Sure, there could be. But I have a feeling Mike’s head is gonna be right in this fight and it’s something that he really wants to go out there and win and try to dust off his last loss. We’re going in. We’re gonna go in regardless of whether I have concerns or don’t have concerns. We’re gonna go in and we’re gonna go in there to win.”

Michael Bisping fights Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai on November 25.


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Who wins the main event this weekend?

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