Michael Bisping’s main event pairing with Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, N.Y., offers an unlikely matchup of mixed martial arts (MMA) accolades and accomplishments.
While each fighter has amassed 20 career victories inside of the Octagon, they’ve traveled completely different roads to get here. Bisping had to wait 10 years to get his first UFC title shot. St-Pierre, who is returning to a championship fight after a four-year hiatus from the sport, was competing in title fights around the same time “The Count” made his promotional debut.
Bisping and St-Pierre are two of the most durable and consistent fighters to ever step foot inside of the Octagon and a pairing that will pit middleweight longevity against welterweight greatness at UFC 217 in NYC. But just because two journeyed champions will lock horns atop the best fight card of the year doesn’t mean they’re going to see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to their legacies.
“He’s fought a lot of the same people over that period,” Bisping said during Thursday’s UFC 217 media lunch when asked of St-Pierre’s previous UFC dominance. “He’s fought them multiple times. And if you go through the opponents. I mean, BJ Penn, who he fought twice or three times, he’s a featherweight, right? Johny Hendricks, I mean look at Johny Hendricks these days. But still.
“Nick Diaz is a welterweight. Carlos Condit, oh, that’s a good win. Josh Koscheck, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves — lightweight. BJ Penn — featherweight. Matt Serra — lightweight. These are all smaller guys.”
Big or small, St-Pierre has defeated them all. And if he didn’t, such as the times he lost to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, the Canadian superstar battled back in his career to avenge the loss. St-Pierre has fought all different types of title contenders in the past and has used his world-class athleticism and skill to come out on top. But according to Bisping, who has never encountered a unique foe like “Rush,” St-Pierre won’t be able to carry over his 170-pound dominance to middleweight.
“He always had that strength and size advantage,” Bisping said. “Now, he’ll probably be stronger than me in this fight, I don’t doubt it. Because he lifts a lot of weights and he’s doing his amino acids every morning and this and that. He’s a real athlete. But I’m a bigger natural guy and he’s not gonna have that advantage. So yeah, he’s great and he’s beaten a lot of competition. But he’s had competition that has been suited toward him size-wise and skill-wise. This is a different matter.”
Despite the long layoff and mystery surrounding St-Pierre’s fighting ability at 36 years of age, it’s going to be even more interesting to see how the former UFC champion moves, attacks, defends, and produces as a 185-pound Canadian tank. It won’t help that St-Pierre is going up against a middleweight champion who fought his first 15 professional fights at light heavyweight.
“He can be as big as he wants,” Bisping said. “He’s still gonna be the smallest little sh*t that I’ve ever faced.”
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