Back when the UFC held a big press conference in March to announce Georges St-Pierre’s return to the Octagon against unlikely middleweight champion Michael Bisping, the promotion failed to provide a date for the contest, which seemed … a bit weird. Both UFC president Dana White and Michael Bisping kept saying July 8th for UFC 213 was the likely date, but sources close to GSP’s camp were saying the former welterweight champ wanted a fall date.
No need to rely on the rumor mill any longer. Here’s Georges St-Pierre himself telling Bisping over social media that he’s ready to fight any time ‘after October.’
“Mr. Bisping, I cleared my schedule to get ready for training camp after the summer,” St-Pierre said, sporting a Captain America rashguard. “So I can fight you any time after October. You pick the date. Let’s get it on.”
As excited as we are for St-Pierre’s comeback, this news is a pretty big blow to our enthusiasm. If this was just about GSP and Michael Bisping, it would be no big deal. But Bisping currently holds the UFC middleweight championship, and 185 pounds is currently the most exciting division in the UFC. It’s overflowing with legit challengers trying to get a shot at the belt … one that won’t come for a long while now that St-Pierre has kindly cleared his schedule for a post-October date.
The logjam at the top of the middleweight division has been going on for a while now. Then-champ Luke Rockhold was originally set to fight Chris Weidman for the belt at UFC 199 in June of 2016, but a Weidman injury resulted in Michael Bisping becoming a last second replacement. Bisping shocked the world by knocking Rockhold out and becoming champion after a decade of never quite being able to earn a title shot. That’s earned him a reputation amongst fans and other middleweights as a weak 185 pound champion.
That reputation wasn’t helped when Bisping made a case for his first title defense to be in the UK against Dan Henderson, a legendary fighter for sure but one who had gone 3-6 over the past five years. But with it also being the rematch of a famous fight from UFC 100 where Henderson brutally knocked out Bisping, the UFC gave Bisping his revenge fight … one Bisping barely managed to win on the scorecards after Henderson hit him with multiple overhand rights that nearly knocked him out.
Following that fight, Bisping again ignored tough potential contenders like Romero, Jacare, Weidman, and Rockhold to call out Georges St-Pierre in December. But when the UFC couldn’t come to terms with St-Pierre, Bisping suddenly declared himself too injured to fight. Two months later, the champion underwent knee surgery, taking him out of circulation until May.
So fans have already been waiting a while for the middleweight division to start moving forward again. And for Georges St-Pierre to step in and stop it until after October? That’s a whole lot of collateral damage to a division he doesn’t regularly compete in, one he plans to abandon soon afterwards for titles in the welterweight and lightweight divisions.