GSP vs. Bisping: Why It’s Problematic
OK, so last week, the UFC put out its big press conference for Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping. After more than three long years away from the Octagon, GSP is finally returning to MMA. His first fight back will be a middleweight bout against Michael Bisping. The problem? The fight is a middleweight championship bout fight Bisping’s middleweight title. My problem here isn’t that I necessarily dislike the match-up or the fight. However, GSP getting this fight for the title creates another huge log jam at the top of the division. Not to mention, Bisping is not fighting his top five contenders.
Really, the two top title contenders at middleweight right now are Yoel Romero and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Yoel Romero arguably has the best claim to a title shot after his eight-fight winning streak in the UFC and more recently knocking out former champion Chris Weidman. Honestly, Jacare really should’ve gotten a title shot a long time ago, but he’s been constantly passed over for one reason or another. I believe he should’ve gotten the shot against Weidman over Belfort. But Belfort was arguably a bigger name for Weidman. I also think he should’ve gotten the shot over Rockhold, but Rockhold was the more attractive contender because he could speak English and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
No matter what Bisping says when he claims he would fight Romero six weeks after fighting GSP, that really doesn’t mean anything. There’s no guarantee he’d be ready or would actually be able to take such a quick turnaround after a five-round fight with GSP. But, it just seems that Bisping is constantly avoiding the valid title contender fights at middleweight. I get that Bisping wants to make a million dollars from a fight, but he’s still the champion. And as the champion, he has an obligation to defend his title. Bisping already got his diversionary fight. He got the fight he wanted with Dan Henderson, and he just barely got by Henderson. But, that was the fight and rematch he’s wanted for years. The UFC went outside the top 10 of the rankings in order to give the No. 13-ranked Henderson that title fight, which let’s be honest, Henderson arguably didn’t deserve on rankings or merit.
So now, you have a situation where the title fights are there for Bisping, but the champion is taking fights that are basically outside of the division. And you know what? Yes, you can find certain precedence for this in year’s past, but it’s becoming way a little too prevalent. Everyone thinks they are Conor McGregor. Or, everyone wants to be Conor McGregor. Or, everyone wants to try and fight Conor McGregor. Bisping is undoubtedly a great fighter. It took him 10 long years, but he finally became UFC champion. He basically built the MMA landscape in the UK. When all is said and done, Bisping has earned his place as a Hall of Famer. That’s unquestionable. However, just because Bisping toiled long and hard doesn’t mean he should necessarily have a say in fighting whoever he wants and not fighting the top contenders.
Now, not all of this is necessarily Bisping’s fault. GSP and his camp were apparently interested in this fight beforehand. Also, Dana White says the UFC wanted GSP in a title fight for his comeback. So, the only fight the UFC would book GSP in for his comeback is a title fight. It’s a bit strange because you could easily argue a return fight for GSP would likely draw big money and PPV buys regardless.
It’s just difficult because you have a champion who isn’t that inactive in Bisping, but he’s not taking the fights he should be taking. If fighters want the super-fights and moneyweight fights, I believe in most cases, they shouldn’t be for titles unless it makes sense. Case in point, Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier when it happened for the first time. Regardless, this fight isn’t confirmed, and there’s really no guarantee it happens until the cage door closes.
Jeffrey Harris is 411mania’s resident Jack of All Trades and has covered MMA for the site since 2008. You can shoot him an e-mail at [email protected] or hit him up on Facebook. He also co-hosts the 411 Ground & Pound Radio podcast along with Robert Winfree. You can listen to the latest episode of the podcast in the player below.