Earlier this year, Dana White announced the nonsensical decision to pit UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping against retired all-timer Georges St-Pierre in a middleweight fight, a weight at which GSP has never fought. That misguided dream is, mercifully, dead.
As a promotion, the UFC has gone a bit stale. The entire business model of the UFC, which WME-IMG paid $4 billion for, relies on selling stars and storylines. Currently, Ronda Rousey’s career is in tatters, the Diaz brothers seem more interested in talking shit than actually fighting, and Conor McGregor is yawning his way through what looks to be a years-long promo for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather that won’t happen. The UFC has become more and more dependent on star power, and now that their cache of stars is somewhat depleted, they need to trawl their recent past for anyone that can carry a pay-per-view card.
GSP was a star when he was dominating his division four years ago, and the highly anticipated return of one of the greatest fighters of all time would have undoubtedly moved units. However, a fight against Bisping for the middleweight belt made no sense. Bisping is a 38-year-old fighter who hasn’t been very convincing in his short reign as middleweight champion, knocking out an injured Luke Rockhold then narrowly escaping with a decision over 46-year-old Dan Henderson.
Meanwhile, the middleweight division is as stacked as any in the UFC. Terror-inspiring Cuban wrestler Yoel Romero is on a ridiculous hot streak, while at least three other fighters are queuing for eventual shots at a title. A bout between GSP and Bisping would sell, but it would run completely counter to the idea that any fighter in the company can work their way to a title shot if they win fights. Overvaluing immediate jolts of profit at the long-term expense of credibility is a dangerous road to go down. It is a mercy upon the sport that GSP will not be fighting Bisping anymore.
As White noted, GSP pushed back the as-yet-unbooked late summer date with Bisping to at least November. That’s far too long to wait around for a superfight, especially since it’s still not a guarantee to happen in the late fall, so Bisping will now get Romero:
(Romero) doesn’t need to voice his opinion on why he needs a title shot. He definitely deserves a title shot. He’s next in line – he’s the No.1 ranked guy in the world.
Georges St-Pierre is saying he will not be ready to compete now until November. Who knows if that’s even the case? It could be next year. … So we’re not waiting for Georges St-Pierre anymore. We’re moving on with the division, and Yoel Romero will get the next shot.
Perhaps GSP can fight Anderson Silva or Nick Diaz in an old-timers’ bout, where a title belt wouldn’t have to serve as extra enticement to fight fans. Lord knows the Spider is itching to get back in the octagon.