Long-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veterans Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre clash TONIGHT (Sat., Nov 4, 2017) at UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Few men step back into the cage after four years away, but only one does it a weight class up against the division’s champion. It’s unlikely that “GSP” is able to pick up where he left off in terms of dominating top fighters with ease, but he still might be able to capture the strap. Meanwhile, Bisping has build quite the resume in the last couple years. This is the highest profile bout of his career — the payday he’s been working quite some time for — and another chance to solidify his legacy as a champion.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Luke Rockhold (UFC 199), Anderson Silva (UFC Fight Night 84), Dan Henderson (UFC 204), Thales Leites (UFC Fight Night 72), C.B. Dollaway (UFC 186), Brian Stann (UFC 152)
Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (UFC Fight Night 55), Tim Kennedy (TUF Nations Finale), Vitor Belfort (UFC on FX 7)
Keys to Victory: Bisping is a high-volume kickboxer who’s quite difficult to take down. The current story behind his resurgence is that Bisping found his power late in his career, which is true to some extent, but he didn’t score all 16 of his knockout wins in the last two years.
Bisping wins fights via attrition. He sets a pace that his opponent can match early, but things shift in his favor as the fight wears on. That’s another reason for Bisping’s recent success: more and more of his fights have been five rounds.
It definitely gives him a better chance here.
The strategy of outlasting “GSP” is simple enough, but the execution is more difficult. Bisping has to find a way to make his opponent empty the tank, as there’s few men more skilled at battering tired opponents. To that end, I’d like to see St-Pierre forcibly make this a physical fight. It would be a smart strategy to punch his way into the clinch, where St-Pierre cannot explode into a shot like usual and should struggle with “The Count’s” size. If Bisping can force a grueling clinch battle, his size and conditioning advantages should tip the edge in his favor.
Georges St. Pierre
Key Wins: Matt Hughes (UFC 65, UFC 79), Johny Hendricks (UFC 204), Carlos Condit (UFC 154), B.J. Penn (UFC 58, UFC 94), Matt Serra (UFC 83), Josh Koscheck (UFC 74, UFC 124), Jon Fitch (UFC 87), Nick Diaz (UFC 158)
Key Losses: Matt Hughes (UFC 50), Matt Serra (UFC 69)
Keys to Victory: At his best, St-Pierre stood out as one of the best in each area of the game. He grouped together excellent coaches from every aspect, building the most complete fighter the world had seen to that point. Finish or no, St-Pierre dominated just about everyone until his bout with Johny Hendricks.
This is St-Pierre’s first bout at Middleweight, and that definitely brings some challenges with it. “GSP” has never fought carrying this much muscle nor has he faced an opponent this big, a pair of factors that can dig into his gas tank significantly.
With that in mind, it’s important that St-Pierre doesn’t try to force the takedown. Chain wrestling endlessly may grant him top position early, but Bisping is a dedicated scrambler who will not relent under St-Pierre’s pressure. Instead, he’ll wait to take advantage as St-Pierre burns through energy carelessly.
To avoid that fight, St-Pierre has to be patient. He can definitely compete with Bisping on the feet — Bisping is no unstoppable knockout artist. In fact, not only can St-Pierre compete, but if he can match previous performances, his jab should find a home quite a bit. If “GSP” is committed to touching Bisping up on the feet and only shooting when he senses the opening, his gas tank shouldn’t be a problem.
Bottom Line: It’s the super fight no one really asked for, yet here we are.
St-Pierre’s legacy as an all-time great is set in stone, but it’s never too late to keep adding to it. Well, it’s not too late until he starts losing at least, which would likely send him back to retirement. If St-Pierre does win, however, it adds another layer to his legend: Two-division champ.
I don’t favor him in that mandatory title defense, though, assuming he actually faces a Top 5-ranked Middleweight such as interim 185-pound kingpin, Robert Whittaker.
As for Bisping, he could mark his place in the history books as the only man to defeat Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. Circumstances be damned, it sounds impressive as hell! Win or lose, retirement seems possible for the Brit, who’s been doing this thing with one eye for a long time. Plus, like his opponent, the idea of facing a Whittaker-Romero-Rockhold type next seems pretty unappealing for the current kingpin.
TONIGHT at UFC 217, Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping will compete for the Middleweight crown. Which man will leave the cage with the belt?