The MMA world was sent into fits of rage when news broke that former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is slated to cut the contender line to challenge current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping. If Bisping is to be believed, though, that panic may have all been over nothing.
Speaking on his podcast Believe You Me, the Brit said that a scheduling conflict may end up scuttling the fight.
"July 8, Las Vegas, International Fight Week is the date and the event that we are targeting. But Dana wouldn’t confirm the date at the press conference," he said (h/t MMAFighting.com for the transcription). He continued on later, "Long story short, it looks like GSP is trying to push for a later date. ... But I’m just throwing it out there right now, if he wants to wait until September or October, then he can go find himself another opponent, buddy."
Longtime MMA fans were delighted when news broke on March 1 that St-Pierre would return to the UFC after three years out of competition, but many were taken aback by the announcement that he would challenge Bisping.
While there is a high level of intrigue in the Canadian reemerging in an effort to cement "greatest of all time" status by winning his third UFC title, it shot down potential blockbuster fights opposite former rivals Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. Add to that how it left established 185-pound contenders spinning their wheels and many hardcore fans, pundits and fighters were left frustrated.
But while Bisping, GSP and the UFC were all willing to take that hit on the expectation of a big payday, the champ wants to stress that no contender, not even one of the biggest draws in MMA history, gets to set his schedule.
So when does Bisping want to fight? "July 8 is the date," he flatly stated. "I will be a little bit flexible and maybe go past that a little bit, but I want to fight at International Fight Week, July 8. So, Georges St-Pierre, get it together."
And if GSP isn't able to go at that point? "If he’s not ready then I guess Yoel Romero gets his title shot," he said. "Listen, I’m not afraid of Yoel Romero. If GSP wants to fight, of course, there’s a great story there. ... But, I’m not willing to sit around, and he doesn’t get to call the shots."
Of course, it's very possible that this is a bluff by Bisping in order to secure the main event spot on a fairly large event.
Still, this is a story worth tracking as the summer approaches. If a deal doesn't get done, the second half of 2017 could get very interesting.