Georges St-Pierre’s UFC comeback is turning into a total fiasco following news that the UFC has scrapped his middleweight title shot against champ Michael Bisping. UFC president Dana White made the decision in an interview with FOX Sports Australia and blamed it on GSP being unable to fight until November.
“I made this GSP fight, we did a press conference,” White said. “The thing was supposed to happen in July. Michael Bisping is going to have to defend his title now. We’re not waiting for GSP … Georges St-Pierre is saying he will not be ready to compete now until November. Who knows if that’s even the case. It could be next year. So we’re not waiting for Georges St-Pierre any more. We’re moving on with the division, and Yoel Romero will get the next shot.”
In typical UFC fashion, they didn’t bother to tell St-Pierre before announcing their decision through the press. Georges found out about the move via a text from the CBC, and still hasn’t received a call from the organization regarding the change.
“I want to fight Bisping and I think Bisping wants to fight me,” Georges told MMA Fighting. “I just learned the news. I don’t know what to say. It might be an emotional response by Dana or maybe it’s to put pressure on me.”
Pressure to agree to an earlier date, like the UFC 213 event in July that White has been targeting since he sat St-Pierre and Bisping down at a press conference in March to announce the fight. That seems unlikely, so the big question now is what the UFC is willing to do to move on from the fight.
They’ve already soured relations once again with Georges St-Pierre, but are they willing to strip Michael Bisping of the middleweight belt if he refuses to take on #1 contender Romero over the summer? Bisping is unlikely to agree to that without a fight … he’s already playing up the idea that his knee is taking longer to recover from surgery than expected. And in the end the UFC can’t force someone to take a fight. The only leverage they have is Bisping’s middleweight belt.
If it seems like nothing is coming together smoothly for the UFC lately, it’s because it’s not. Conor McGregor showed the world that going your own way is often more lucrative than just agreeing to the UFC’s demands. Why should Bisping give up a massive payday with Georges St-Pierre in favor of fighting dangerous but little known contender Yoel Romero? While White is selling it as necessary for the middleweight division, it probably has more to do with the promotion needing to fill empty main event slots in upcoming fight cards.
In the past, the UFC’s ‘our way or the highway’ style of doing business has worked. But with more and more names at the top of the roster refusing to just accept whatever the promotion decides no matter how detrimental it is to their career and finances, it may be time for the promotion to try dangling a little more carrot before pulling out the stick.