Wednesday’s news that Georges St-Pierre will challenge Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship in the former’s first fight since a three-year sabbatical created quite a buzz in the mixed martial arts world.
Chief among the questions being asked: Why would St-Pierre, the longtime former UFC welterweight champion, choose to go up in weight class and chase after another title, instead of going back after the one he held for more than five years?
Bisping, for his part, has his theory: He thinks GSP considers him an easy mark.
In his first public comments since the announcement of the fight, Bisping said St-Pierre believes he’d be an easy victory, based on a training session between the two which went down more than a decade ago.
“He chose me because he thinks he can beat me,” Bisping said on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight. “I trained with him 11 years ago and he outwrestled me. Now back then I was a kickboxer from England, I didn’t know a double leg from a double decker bus. But every time we trained he’d take me down. He thinks I’m still that guy. He thinks I’m an easy opponent, an easy pick. He picked me to come out of retirement, moving up a weight class, it’s almost like he has nothing to lose, but if he moves up a weight class, he beats me, he becomes a legend.”
Bisping also knows there was another flash point of controversy coming out of the announcement of his fight with St-Pierre, which is expected to be held in Las Vegas at a TBD date. With a division full of killers like Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza, Bisping can be interpreted as ducking top middleweight opponents.
Bisping acknowledged the criticism, but turned the tables and said any other fighter would accept a GSP bout if it was offered.
“I know there are people out there who are criticizing me,” Bisping said. “Saying I should fight the number one contender, guys like Yoel Romero, and they’re absolutely right. But, put the question right back to you: If you are 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 you’re going to take that fight. So why shouldn’t I do the same? I deserve this payoff, I deserve this fight, not only for the payday, I want this fight for my legacy.”
Besides, Bisping said, it was the UFC who came calling to him for the GSP bout, first in October, then again last week after St-Pierre signed on for his comeback.
“This fight offered to me last October, but the fight didn’t come to fruition,” Bisping said. “Because Georges I believe couldn’t come to terms with the UFC. So I tried to put this fight out of my mind, started to think about the next contenders in the UFC. Of course, I got a phone call about a week ago saying the fight is back on the table, Georges wants to fight you and it’s a big fight. Of course I said yes, Georges St-Pierre is a legendary fighter, he’s had one of the best careers, if not the best career, in the history of the sport.”
At the end of the day, the fight’s not just about the payday for Bisping, but also about legacy.
“I have nothing but respect for Georges,” said Bisping. “For me, beating Georges St-Pierre, beating Anderson Silva, beating Dan Henderson, beating Luke Rockhold, for me, it really puts an exclamation point on my career.”