Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions — present and past — Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre clashed last night (Nov. 4, 2017) at UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Bisping has grown accustomed to the role of underdog throughout his career, but he was actually expected by many to come out on top last night. In the midst of the best string of performances in his career and without a four-year layoff, it’s not hard to see why Bisping was the favorite in this match up. However, it’s hard to bet against an all-time great. Regardless of the weight class and layoff, the St. Pierre faithful were quite confident about the Canadian’s ability to add another title to his long list of accomplishments.
“GSP” opened with his good ol’ jab and inside low kick, landing from the outside. A big overhand scored not long after, and St. Pierre looked both sharp and full-sized a couple minutes into the round.
Working behind the jab, St. Pierre was aggressive but patient. He was setting up the right hand well, looping it over top of Bisping’s left. The Canadian switched it up with his first takedown attempt of the fight with a minute remaining, scoring a high-crotch takedown. Bisping returned to his feet quickly only to eat a Superman jab that stunned him.
There was no sign of ring rust from St. Pierre after five minutes.
St. Pierre went back to the jab and kicks at the start of the second round. He also began to use the left hook more, finding a home on Bisping’s chin as “The Count” reached to parry the jab.
In response to getting pierced up, Bisping upped the aggression. That resulted in a clean takedown from “GSP,” but Bisping scrambled back to his feet excellently. That wrestling seemed to tire St. Pierre, allowing BIsping to rally in the final minute or so of the round.
It made for a very close round.
St. Pierre opened the third with a powerful double leg, finishing into the full guard. Bisping responded with elbows from his back, allowing St. Pierre to control him for a couple minutes but doing damage as well.
Back on the feet, St. Pierre pressed his opponent back with the jab. As Bisping backed off from St. Pierre’s pressure, “Rush” set up a left hook by going to the body with a cross first. It landed directly into the center of Bisping’s face, and the Brit fell to the mat.
“GSP” jumped on top of his opponent and dropped massive elbows. Bisping did an admirable job of hanging in there while wounded, and he tried to scramble back to his feet. St. Pierre let that happen, jumping onto the his foe’s back and locking in a rear naked choke.
Make fun of Bisping all you will, but St. Pierre capturing the Middleweight crown will go does as a legendary moment.
In my analysis prior to the bout, I wrote that wrestling Bisping probably wasn’t a viable path to victory, and I stand by that after the fight. Mixing in takedowns definitely helped, but St. Pierre had real trouble establishing top position. In fact, the only time he actually did, he ate more elbows than it was worth.
On the feet, however, the story was different. “GSP” landed the harder shots consistently, using his speed and jab to control Bisping. At Middleweight, St. Pierre seemed to have a bit more power than usual, as Bisping was sent reeling from a few of the Canadian’s punches.
The only thing St. Pierre struggled with was conditioning. He definitely slowed at times, particularly after wrestling. In those moments when St. Pierre wasn’t feeling particularly athletic, his opponent was able to land some hard shots and shift momentum back to his corner.
Against the true elite of 185 lbs., that will be a problem.
Bisping has nothing to be ashamed of in this loss. It’s easy to forget that he’s a 38 year old with questionable vision coming off a long layoff himself. Bisping did his best to push the pace on a more athletic foe, and he showed off his trademark grittiness in the process.
Prior the big left hook, it was still anyone’s fight.
Moving forward, Bisping is unlikely to ever fight for a title again. He’s likely going to face a true top five contender next — such as Luke Rockhold or Yoel Romero — which will see him as a large underdog. He’s pulled through before, but it’s hard not to see Bisping’s career ending soon.
Last night, Georges St. Pierre returned from a four years away from the cage to score his first finish in a decade. Who will “GSP” fight next?
For complete UFC 217: “Bisping vs St. Pierre” results and play-by-play, click HERE!