It’s still hard for many fans to come to terms with the fact that Michael Bisping is the current UFC middleweight champion.
‘The Count’ pulled off a massive upset against heavy favorite Luke Rockhold last year, stepping up on short notice and KO’ing the Californian in the first round to win the 185-pound title.
Bisping then faced criticism for defending the belt against old rival Dan Henderson, who knocked out the Brit in spectacular fashion at UFC 100 but wasn’t ranked in the top 15 at the time of their rematch in 2016.
Now, Bisping faces even more criticism for accepting a title fight against former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, who hasn’t stepped foot in the Octagon in almost four years.
Bisping, though, says he was gearing up to fight the winner of the interim championship bout between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero at UFC 213 and had agreed to a coaching role on The Ultimate Fighter.
Whittaker beat Romero via unanimous decision but suffered a knee injury and is expected to be out of action for the rest of the year. That’s when UFC president Dana White re-booked Bisping vs. St-Pierre for UFC 217.
“I’m just hungry to fight, regardless of whether it was Georges,” Bisping said on the 400th episode of The MMA Hour, per MMA Fighting’s Shaun Al-Shatti. “You’ve got to remember, there’s a lot of people out there that like to talk sh*t and say that, ‘He’s dodging the No. 1 contender,’ and all of this. Prior to Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero fighting, I had a quick meeting with Dana White in the backroom of the MGM, or wherever the f*ck, the T-Mobile Arena, and I agreed to coach The Ultimate Fighter against whoever won that fight. So in essence, I accepted a fight with Yoel and I accepted a fight with Robert Whittaker.
“I just want to throw that out there for all those people out there who like to talk smack. And it was Robert Whittaker that said he needed some time, he didn’t want to fight. Obviously a fight with Yoel doesn’t make sense because Yoel just lost. But it’s funny how things happen, because that actually gave the GSP thing an ability to happen. Because that fight happened on a Saturday, we were supposed to start coaching The Ultimate Fighter on the Tuesday. So, if Whittaker hadn’t turned it down, the fight never would’ve happened.”
Speaking of his new opponent, St-Pierre, Bisping recalls the time they trained together years ago and how GSP got the better of him. Back then, Bisping didn’t know a ‘double-leg from a Big Mac’ and believes St-Pierre is in for a rude awakening on Nov. 4.
“We trained together a long, long time ago and he outwrestled me then,” Bisping said. “I didn’t know a double-leg from a Big Mac. So he still thinks he can outwrestle me down and beat me. He didn’t want to fight Anderson Silva when he was the champion. He didn’t want to fight Luke Rockhold when he was the champion. So he’s looking at me as easy pickings. That’s why he’s focused on fighting me so much. And for all this talk, I say Georges is a fraud. And Canada, who looks at him as their champion — Canada’s champion is a f*cking fraud.”
UFC 217, which features the middleweight championship tilt between Bisping and St-Pierre in the main event, takes place on November 4 at Madison Square Garden, New York.