Legendary former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will mark his UFC return by fighting for a title. Dana White announced on ESPN’s SportsCenter that GSP will go up against reigning middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who has clamored for this fight for almost a full year. No date or venue has been confirmed, but White noted that it’ll be held during the second-half of 2017 and that there will be a press conference held in Las Vegas on Friday, March 3rd.
St-Pierre (25-2) recently agreed to terms on a new contract with the UFC, signalling the end of a three-year hiatus from the sport, which included relinquishing his welterweight strap immediately following his November 2013 split decision win over Johny Hendricks. He has never fought at middleweight in his illustrious career, but last June he told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that Bisping is the opponent he most desired for his Octagon comeback.
Bisping (30-7) has won five consecutive bouts, the longest streak of his UFC career, and it’s one that has led to him becoming the 185 lbs champion in the most improbable of circumstances. In 2016, the 37-year-old edged out Anderson Silva in a thrilling contest in February, then replaced the injured Chris Weidman on short notice at UFC 199 in June, knocked out then-champion Luke Rockhold to win UFC gold, and rallied from two knockdowns to defeat Dan Henderson at UFC 204 in October. The Henderson fight took place in front of his adoring fans in Manchester, England, and marked his second avenged defeat in as many fights. Now he’s set to once again take on an MMA legend, one he’s specifically called out repeatedly, in what will surely represent the big money fight he’s long desired.
Though he had a viable middleweight contender waiting in the wings in Yoel Romero, Bisping repeatedly stated over recent months that a St-Pierre fight interested him the most, largely due to the drawing power of St-Pierre’s name and the financial implications that came along with it of the Brit’s first multi-million dollar UFC payday.
“The only reason I’m saying Georges St-Pierre is because I know he wants to fight me, and I was offered a fight with him. That’s the only reason he’s in my mind,” Bisping said recently on The MMA Hour. “If I wasn’t offered a fight with him [in 2016], I wouldn’t be thinking Georges St-Pierre. But that just got that carrot dangled in front of my face of a several-million-dollar payday. Call me stupid, but I want that f*cking carrot. I want that several million dollars in my bank account. I want it for my children’s sake, for my family, for when I’m retired so we can still live a good life.
“That’s why I’m doing it. Not because I’m trying to rob the UFC, or rob the fans of the No. 1 contender, or do wrong to Yoel Romero. I want it for my family’s sake. So in a perfect world, I fight Georges St-Pierre, I will beat Georges St-Pierre, I will not be injured in that fight Georges because Georges never injures anybody in a fight, and then I will do a quick turnaround, within six weeks I will fight Yoel Romero. That’s what he wants, that’s what he’ll get. I’ll guarantee you right now, hand on my heart.”