Welcome to the era of the money fight. You can’t blame new UFC ownership, WME-IMG, for wanting to cash in as quickly as possible on their $4 billion investment.
In what was the most lucrative franchise sale in the history of sports, the new ownership has been looking to jump on the money train with names like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. But what happens when one gets knocked off and sent packing to potential retirement and the other takes his lightweight championship belt back to Ireland to entertain the idea of boxing Floyd Mayweather?
You make a phone call to Canada and talk to Georges St-Pierre about a possible comeback.
To say that the negotiations of GSP returning to the Octagon went smoothly for the new ownership would be un gros mensonge. (That’s “big lie” in French.)
There were myriad business issues to resolve, like how can Georges wear Reebok fight gear when he is paid millions of dollars to wear Under Armour, and how much money is GSP worth to new ownership since the French-Canadian has been absent for over three years?
The negotiations were tumultuous at best and even played out in the media. But when the dust settled, UFC President Dana White announced that the promotion had come to an agreement with one of its greatest fighters of all time.
Dana White on SportsCenter: GSP will fight Michael Bisping, fight will take place in 2nd half of 2017
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 1, 2017
The fact that Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (25-2) is going to be moving up to middleweight to face the champ Michael “The Count” Bisping (30-7) caught even hardcore MMA fans off-guard. The 35-year-old Canadian welterweight is essentially butting in line in front of top contenders like Yoel Romero (12-1) and “Jacare” Souza (24-4), fighters who have done enough work to get title shots but now have to play the unfortunate waiting game.
Usually, with a big fight announcement comes a date, but so far nothing has been finalized. In a recent press conference to hype the fight, Dana White did mention when he would like to see the fight take place.
“We’re hoping and aiming for this [fight to happen] probably in July. In a perfect world, I would love to see this fight happen on International Fight Week.”
The fighters, themselves, did their parts to hype the fight at that press conference as well. GSP spoke in his familiar French-Canadian accent. Bisping spoke in his own native tongue: drunk-a-nese.
The champ looked and sounded like he had enjoyed the night before a little too much, which made for an interesting back and forth. But ultimately we only really learned one thing from the banter; one guy is good at trash talking while the other is not. I’ll give you one guess whether it’s the brash Briton or the introspective Canadian.
Thank God GSP has Bisping to help promote the fight because the greatest welterweight of all time is too polite to even fire a shot in any war of words. For a guy who was once the UFC’s “king of pay-per-view,” he is terrible at hyping a fight. He became a Twitter meme when he promised to go to his “dark place” for a Nick Diaz bout. To this day, nobody knows where the likable GSP’s dark place is; but if you ask his opponents, it’s probably underneath one of his unstoppable takedowns.
The fact is, GSP doesn’t need to talk trash to make this fight interesting. Let’s not forget that, before his three-year hiatus, St-Pierre was an unstoppable force in the welterweight division having put together 12 straight wins, including nine title defenses. So Michael Bisping better take this fight seriously and may want to rethink his game-plan:
“Hey Georges, I’ll go out on an all-night f*cking bender and still beat you, pal … I won’t even train. Look at the state of you, you little f*cking midget.”
Here’s what I see happening when GSP “rushes” headlong into the Count.
Why does GSP want Bisping? As the old adage says, styles make fights and Bisping has a fighting style that Georges has beaten before. But don’t call this a tune-up bout for GSP because there is a danger in moving up in weight and facing a guy who used to fight at 205 pounds.
Bisping brings size and reach, and his takedown defense isn’t too shabby either. The brash Brit has never faced a guy like GSP, though, and some would say Bisping’s title reign has more to do with luck than actually being the best in the division.
Having beaten an over-the-hill Anderson Silva in 2016, Bisping was gifted a short-notice shot at the title against Luke Rockhold last June, stepping in for an injured Chris Weidman. Rockhold had already beaten Bisping badly and didn’t take the challenge seriously. The Englishman shocked the world with a first-round knockout to become a UFC champion for the first time in his long career. He went on to defend his title against Dan Henderson who, like Silva, was also passed his best-before date.
As much as Bisping claims that Georges chose him because he felt it was an easy fight, the same kind of shade could be thrown at Bisping for wanting a big payday instead of a fight with a legit middleweight contender like Romero.
The biggest concern for GSP is ring rust, but I don’t see it as a huge worry. While he has been off for three years, he never stopped training. He will be working his stand-up with famed boxing coach Freddie Roach and you know his legendary wrestling will be ready.
Bisping can win if he is able to keep his distance and work his jab. He can’t allow this fight to go to the deep rounds, though; he needs to finish GSP. For what Bisping brings in size and reach, St-Pierre brings in speed and technique that will give Bisping fits. In what will be a pretty one-sided fight, my early prediction is GSP via decision.
Winner: George St-Pierre
O/U on GSP takedowns: 4.5
O/U pay-per-view buys: 950,000
Odds Bisping gives GSP the finger: 1/1
Odds Bisping shows up late to another press conference: 3/1
Odds GSP walks down to the Octagon in a Reebok Gi: 4/1
Odds GSP walks down to the Octagon to French rap music: 2/3
Feature Photo Credit: UFC.com/Youtube
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