There has been another twist in the will-they won’t-they saga involving the potential middleweight title fight between Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre.
To recap: Dana White announced many moons ago that former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was to return to the UFC after a more than three-year hiatus from the sport — and he would face middleweight champion Michael Bisping for the title in his first fight back. A press conference was held, promotional posters were drafted but the only thing lacking was a date.
St-Pierre, as is the case with any fighter returning from a long layoff, must complete four months of USADA testing before being eligible to return to action. This, coupled with an eye injury that the Canadian is reported to be suffering from as well as a knee injury for Bisping, meant that the fight certainly wouldn’t be taking place in the short to medium term.
As you might expect, the rest of the middleweight division grew restless. Yoel Romero was expected to be awarded a title shot after his UFC 205 victory against Chris Weidman last November. Surging Australian contender Robert Whitakker also elbowed his way into the conversation when he defeated Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza earlier this year. Former champion Luke Rockhold also retains a keen interest into the UFC’s middleweight match-making.
Perhaps sensing that the hype behind the Bisping vs. GSP clash was dwindling, Dana White announced recently that he was considering shelving the bout and reverting to the Bisping vs. Romero plan though these plans were complicated by the aforementioned knee injury suffered by the Brit. White’s next plans is to have Romero face Whitakker in an interim title bout with the winner being the definitive next in line for whoever emerges with the 185-pound strap over the course of the summer.
In this though, Bisping sees opportunity. The potential booking of Romero and Whitakker frees up Bisping’s schedule and — yep, you’ve guessed it — might open the door to the ‘money fight’ he has been asking for all along.
Speaking on UFC Tonight on Wednesday (as per MMAFighting), Bisping said: “Georges is saying that he still wants to fight me, whether or not I have the belt – believe you me, I will have that belt – so just throwing that out there. Yoel [Romero], Robert Whittaker, they’re going to fight for the interim [title].
“Of course, I will defend the belt against one of them but it sounds like me and Georges are still going to get it on. So I’m a happy man.”
“To my knowledge, [GSP’s injury] why the fight was taking so long to materialise. Now as far as I was aware, Georges knew, the UFC knew, I knew but it wasn’t my news to talk about. It wasn’t my news to tell the public. That’s why I was still very confident in the fight happening. That’s why I’m still confident the fight is going to happen.”
If indeed the Bisping vs. GSP bout does come to pass, it will bring with it the added drama of a loser leaves town match. Both fighters have stated that a loss in their next bout will likely spell the end of their mixed martial arts career — and whomever that might be will be greatly remembered in the annals of MMA history.