According to middleweight champion Michael Bisping, it’s now official that he’ll be defending his title against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 in New York City on November 4th.
Bisping made the claim last night on the ‘UFC Tonight’ show, hopefully bringing an end to constant speculation regarding who will be fighting GSP upon his return to the Octagon.
“This is actually the third time I’ve been offered this fight,” Bisping said on the FOX Sports 1 show. “The ship sailed twice, on this occasion, the third occasion, it set up sailing but it did a u-turn and it pulled up in New York City and off got a chirpy little Englishman who’s going to fight Georges St-Pierre, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 4.”
“It is official. Put it in your diaries. Do not miss it. We’re taking over.”
The two fighters have campaigned hard for this fight, and indeed it had not only been originally announced in March, but Bisping and GSP also attended an official press conference for it, but settling on a date for the clash proved to be a major stumbling block.
The UFC had clearly envisaged a summer booking, but GSP put a spanner in the works when he claimed he wouldn’t be ready until nearer the end of the year, which led to the promotion rethinking their plans.
Bisping then insisted he wouldn’t be fit to fight until later in the year either, but nonetheless was still linked to a fight with the winner of Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero instead.
However, that also fell through when Whittaker won the interim belt, only to then reveal that he’d suffered a knee injury that would likely keep him out of action until next year.
Meanwhile, GSP was now being lined up to fight the winner of last weekend’s Tyron Woodley vs Demian Maia welterweight title fight, but after the hugely underwhelming nature of Woodley’s victory, UFC president Dana White decided on the spot to pull the plug on that match-up, and return to their original plan to have the Canadian star fight ‘The Count’.
So, in essence, GSP has got exactly what he wanted all along – to fight Bisping towards the end of the year.
It’s also good news for the British champ as he has made it clear that what he wants more than anything else at this late stage in his career is to get the biggest fight possible in order to secure a major payday, and being the first man to face a returning superstar like GSP at Madison Square Garden more than fits the bill.