The road to Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre has been a roller coaster for all involved, to say the least.
The matchup between two of the UFC’s most winningest all-time fighters was planned then scrapped seemingly countless times over the past year, a winding saga that included lawsuits, injuries, a premature press conference, and more fake-outs than any other UFC fight in recent memory. But now it is finally here, scheduled for a Nov. 4 date at Madison Square Garden, and for Bisping, nearly 13 months will have passed between title defenses by the time UFC 217 arrives. So while many within the middleweight division have criticized Bisping for the way things have played out, “The Count” is simply eager to get back on track with his championship reign.
“I’m just hungry to fight, regardless of whether it was Georges,” Bisping said on the 400th episode of The MMA Hour. “You’ve got to remember, there’s a lot of people out there that like to talk sh*t and say that, ‘He’s dodging the No. 1 contender,’ and all of this. Prior to Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero fighting, I had a quick meeting with Dana White in the backroom of the MGM, or wherever the f*ck, the T-Mobile Arena, and I agreed to coach The Ultimate Fighter against whoever won that fight. So in essence, I accepted a fight with Yoel and I accepted a fight with Robert Whittaker.
“I just want to throw that out there for all those people out there who like to talk smack. And it was Robert Whittaker that said he needed some time, he didn’t want to fight. Obviously a fight with Yoel doesn’t make sense because Yoel just lost. But it’s funny how things happen, because that actually gave the GSP thing an ability to happen. Because that fight happened on a Saturday, we were supposed to start coaching The Ultimate Fighter on the Tuesday. So, if Whittaker hadn’t turned it down, the fight never would’ve happened.”
Whittaker, the interim UFC middleweight champion, is currently recovering from a knee injury he suffered in his title win over Romero at UFC 213. He is expected to fight the winner of Bisping vs. St-Pierre in a title unification match next year.
In the meantime, Bisping and “GSP” will do battle over the 185-pound title the Brit has held since his June 2016 knockout of Luke Rockhold.
Bisping said on Monday that a chance exists that UFC 217 could be the final fight of his 14-year career. If that ends up being the case, and Bisping emerges victorious over St-Pierre, Whittaker would likely elevated into the new UFC middleweight champion upon Bisping’s retirement. But Bisping acknowledged that his final decision hasn’t been made yet, and for now, he’s focused entirely on proving that St-Pierre erred in his choice of opponent for his first fight back after four years away from the game.
“I’ll fight until I’m 50 years old, but if you want to truly have a legacy, I’d say win the belt, defend it a few times, then retire as champion. There’s not better way to go out than that,” Bisping said. “That’s why I’m saying Georges should’ve done that. Georges has made a mistake. Georges was lulled back to the limelight. Of course, money’s good, everybody wants to win money as well, so I’m sure that’s a factor for Georges’ coming back, but never mind that.
“The problem with Georges, this is where he’s messed up: Georges has fallen into the trap that many people fall into, and that trap is, he thinks he can beat me. A lot of people look at me on TV and they go, ‘I can beat that guy. Look at the way he fights,’ and this and that. But then when they get in there with me, it’s a different thing. See, Georges paints himself as this martial artist, which he is, but the story that’s surrounding Georges is that, ‘oh, this guy, he’s coming out of retirement after four years and he’s going to step up a weight class and fight the champion. Man, this guy’s amazing. He’s got balls bigger than Canada.’
“But in truth, he’s doing this because he thinks he can beat me. We trained together a long, long time ago and he outwrestled me then. I didn’t know a double-leg from a Big Mac. So he still thinks he can outwrestle me down and beat me. He didn’t want to fight Anderson Silva when he was the champion. He didn’t want to fight Luke Rockhold when he was the champion. So he’s looking at me as easy pickings. That’s why he’s focused on fighting me so much. And for all this talk, I say Georges is a fraud. And Canada, who looks at him as their champion — Canada’s champion is a f*cking fraud.”
Bisping and St-Pierre have already begun making the media rounds for UFC 217. On Monday, Bisping recalled an joint television interview where he said St-Pierre got so riled up that the former welterweight champion’s “hands were shaking.” He also noted that St-Pierre appears to have gained significant muscle mass since the two first faced off in an introductory press conference in March, but that regardless of how much weight training St-Pierre does, he’ll still be “the smallest guy” Bisping has ever fought.
“I’m going to remind him why he retired,” Bisping said. “Johny Hendricks beat him so bad, he thought he was f*cking abducted by aliens. That’s why Georges retired. You know this. Everybody knows this. And he’s going to walk in there and come find out. It’s easy, me now talking to you, and it’s easy for Georges, talking to you, doing TV, doing the Countdown, doing all of this. But you can’t lie to yourself.
“And the problem is, you can lie to yourself at this point, but the closer the fight gets, that’s when it keeps you up at night, and then when he’s in the locker room and it’s just before he goes out, there’s 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden, and he’s going to think, ‘Sh*t. Sh*t. I know why I retired. It’s because of this feeling right here, this feeling of doubt, the scared-ness that we all get, the fright.’ And he’s going to walk out there and then the lights are going to be on him, he hasn’t fought in four years, he’s going to think, ‘Sh*t, what the f*ck am I doing here? Why did I say yes to this again?’ Because he doesn’t need the money.
“He’s coming up a weight class against bigger guys — a bigger guy who’s used to fighting bigger guys, who’s used to fighting guys who can hit way harder than Georges can hit me. He can’t hurt me with anything. And then when I jab him in the face and I punch him again, he’s suddenly going to realize, ‘Sh*t, I made a mistake here. I shouldn’t have done this. I should’ve backed out.’ He should’ve never came back.”