It was the fight nobody wanted six months ago. But now, following Tyron Woodley’s UFC welterweight title defence against Demian Maia, which set the record for fewest strikes thrown in a championship fight, the news that former 170lb champion Georges St-Pierre will return to the Octagon against middleweight champion Michael Bisping – and not Woodley – is viewed somewhat differently.
A long time coming, yesterday’s confirmation that bout agreements had been signed was greeted with a mixture of relief – finally, it’s done! – and some degree of excitement, too, in light of the fact it will headline the UFC’s return to Madison Square Garden, New York, on November 4.
For Bisping, the current 185lb champion, a fight with St-Pierre is exactly what he has wanted since taking the title from Luke Rockhold in June 2016. It’s a marquee matchup against one of the superstars of MMA, albeit one absent from the Octagon for four years, and does things to his bank balance a fight against a middleweight contender simply wouldn’t. At 38 years of age, Bisping makes no apologies for approaching the sport in this way. He wants the big names for the big money and then he wants to get out.
Thirty-six-year-old St-Pierre, meanwhile, has teased a comeback for the best part of a year now. His last fight, a close decision win over Johny Hendricks, which saw GSP come very close to losing his belt, took place in November 2013 and was his seventh five-rounder in a row. In total, the popular French-Canadian defended the UFC welterweight title a staggering nine times and is still, despite his absence, considered the greatest 170lb fighter in mixed martial arts history.
Finally signing my UFC 217 Bout Agreement vs. Michael Bisping for Nov. 4th at MSG – Get ready for a big night in NYC!!! pic.twitter.com/VgqIVnsLwv
— Georges St-Pierre (@GeorgesStPierre) August 9, 2017