Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping amp up Hype for UFC 217

UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping is intent on spoiling the party for returning UFC legend Georges St-Pierre in New York next month

Bisping has maintained that St-Pierre will be significantly out of his depth when he enters the Octagon at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden, following a four-year absence from fighting.

The Canadian’s return was protracted somewhat, having been initially scheduled to take on the Brit for the UFC middleweight title. Despite having to play the waiting game and find patience, Bisping claims that he always knew the fight would happen:

“I knew this fight would come off, because he hasn’t got the balls to fight anyone that he doesn’t think he can beat, like Anderson Silva, like many other people,” Bisping said at a news conference in Las Vegas for UFC 217 on Friday.

Bisping was, of course, alluding to St-Pierre’s supposed bout with UFC middleweight legend Anderson Silva prior to announcing his retirement. “GSP” walked away from the UFC following a controversial victory over Johny Hendricks and that ‘super fight’ never materialized. St-Pierre insists that it was not the fear of that particular challenge, as Bisping put it, which led to hi retirement:

“So, one time I’ve been offered the fight (with Silva) is when I stopped fighting after my fight with Hendricks,” St-Pierre said. “After my fight with Hendricks, (UFC President) Dana (White) called me and said, ‘Do you want to fight Anderson Silva?’ But I didn’t want to fight anybody. Not Silva. You would have put a three-foot midget, and (I wouldn’t want to fight him). I just wanted to take a break. That’s the only time.

“There’s been a lot of talk about fighting, but never has anything significant been proposed. It’s all rumor and talks. If I go up in weight class, I need time to gain weight and adjust myself for that challenge. At that time, I was very busy. I had challenge after challenge. I was fighting all these guys at 170 that were challenging me one after the other. So if I do something, I want to focus on it and do it well.”

St-Pierre also touched upon the delay in fighting Bisping, indicating that he wanted more time to prepare for his first middleweight bout:

“That’s why I’ve been preparing myself for more than six months to fight Bisping. And I put on some weight, and I feel good now, it feels natural, and I’m ready to go.”

With the Tri-Star Gym product firmly focused on a victory in his return, he is more than happy to declare that he will beat Bisping:

“He’s [Michael Bisping] got a loss Nov. 4. This I can guarantee you. He’s not gonna beat me. There’s nothing more sure. Water is wet, fire burns and I’m gonna beat Michael Bisping.”

St-Pierre has managed until now to really react to Bisping’s efforts at unsettling him, opting to ignore the trash talk and goading. The Canadian understands that the Brit is in the business of selling a fight but does believe that there may also be an element of authenticity in his disdain for him:

He’s a very angry man,” St-Pierre said. “He takes everything as insult, he takes everything personal. If you would have asked Michael Bisping 10 years ago, ‘What would make you happy?’ He would probably say, ‘Be world champion.’ Now that’s world champion he’s not happy anymore. I think he has a lot of holes that he can’t fill in himself. That’s a problem.

Bisping, in typical fashion, replied with: “If you want to go out filling holes, that’s up to you, pal. I’m happy.”

The Manchester native should be happy. Having been a stalwart of the UFC’s middleweight division following an excellent run at light heavyweight prior to a controversial loss to Rashad Evans. A disputable victory over Anderson Silva saw a stroke of luck land him in a title shot against Luke Rockhold, where he avenged his loss to the Californian by taking his title in what was his first defense.

Bisping followed this up with a close decision over veteran Dan Henderson before landing his “money fight” with St-Pierre. While the Brit has flirted with the idea of retirement should he lose the bout, he will no doubt be satisfied with how his UFC path has panned out in the twilight of his career.

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