Georges St-Pierre has been teasing a comeback for what seems like an eternity now, but his return to the Octagon is finally nigh. A few weeks ago, he finally came to terms with the UFC on a new deal. And yesterdayhis first opponent was revealed: current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping. That’s right: Georges is moving up from 170 to 185 pounds to challenge for an entirely new belt.
Word is Georges has the right to choose his first two if not three opponents cooked into his new contract. So why did he decide on Michael Bisping as his first opponent when there were other attractive options like Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva and Conor McGregor out there? Michael Bisping himself has some thoughts on that.
“He chose me because he thinks he can beat me,” Bisping said in an interview with UFC Tonight(via Bloody Elbow). “I trained with him 11 years ago and he out-wrestled me. Now back then I was a kickboxer from England, I didn’t know a double leg from a double decker bus. But every time we trained he’d take me down. He thinks I’m still that guy. He thinks I’m an easy opponent, an easy pick. He picked me to come out of retirement, moving up a weight class. It’s almost like he has nothing to lose, but if he moves up a weight class, he beats me, he becomes a legend.”
The funny thing is, 11 years ago there was barely a Brit fighting in mixed martial arts that could wrestle worth a damn. It was a famous issue with the UK fighters: they could crack, but because there’s simply not the same fine tradition of college and university wrestling baked into the culture of school like there is in the United States, the Brits were always one or two takedowns away from being stuck on their backs.
That’s changed at this point. Enough well rounded fighters fighters and wrestling coaches have made their way across the pond to Europe to make a difference. As it always is in the evolving game of mixed martial arts, weaknesses have been clearly identified and trained out of existence. The current Michael Bisping has a takedown defense of over 80% and a reputation as an endless cardio machine. He still may not be able to stop GSP’s thunderous double leg, but there’s no doubt he’s three if not four times the fighter he was when they trained together over a decade ago.
Add in all the extra weight (Georges is small enough of a welterweight that he has suggested he could make the lightweight division) and St-Pierre may have a much harder time than he expects.