Big news in the UFC this week – an organization that needed some good news with some drug troubles and Conor McGregor’s leave of absence – as the legendary Georges St-Pierre will come out of retirement to fight middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
Did you really think that Georges St-Pierre, the baddest man in Canada, was going to stay retired? Fighters never do. There had been rumors for months that St-Pierre was going to return to the Octagon, and on Wednesday UFC president Dana White made it official. St-Pierre will fight middleweight champion Michael Bisping at a location and date to be determined. It should happen at some point later this year, and Las Vegas would be an early favorite for where.
“We haven’t set a date yet, but that’s the fight,” White said. “(St-Pierre) has to be tested by USADA for the next three months. There’s a lot of things that have to happen for Georges to come back, and then we’ll pick a date.”
St-Pierre (25-2) is considered one of the best MMA fighters ever and he might be the most popular non-hockey playing athlete in Canada. The 35-year-old was the longest-reigning welterweight champion in UFC history, defending the title nine consecutive times between 2008-2013. His last fight was a split-decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013. He vacated the title shortly after in taking a break from the sport. He never officially said he was retired.
On Sports Interaction MMA odds, St-Pierre is an opening -150 favorite for this fight. That seems like a bit of a lack of respect for the 30-year-old Bisping, although St-Pierre has never been an underdog dating to 2007, as far as records go.
The Englishman Bisping is 30-7 and has won five fights in a row. He was last in the Octagon last October and beat Dan Henderson by unanimous decision at UFC 204. Bisping won the middleweight title with a first-round upset knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 last June. Bisping is a +120 underdog here on MMA odds. He was +330 against Rockhold.
This won’t be Bisping’s first rodeo against an all-time great. He beat Anderson Silva last February by unanimous decision as a +160 underdog. The loser in this is No. 1 ranked middleweight contender Yoel Romero, who was in line to fight Bisping but now must wait until 2018 to get a title shot – assuming he doesn’t lose to another contender before that.
In UFC’s dream scenario, St-Pierre wins this title and eventually fights lightweight champion Conor McGregor sometime next year. Assuming McGregor returns to the UFC from his sabbatical, that is.