Michael Bisping decided to play the role of revisionist historian at a UFC 217 media lunch on Thursday, providing a cutting analysis of upcoming opponent Georges St-Pierre’s decorated first run with the UFC.
St-Pierre went 20-2 from his UFC debut in 2004 to his ‘retirement’ in late 2013, twice winning the promotion’s welterweight title and making a total of nine successful defences. He also avenged both of his defeats in brutal fashion – even finishing first conqueror Matt Hughes on two separate occasions just for good measure. In the process ‘GSP’ established himself as the consensus greatest 170-pounder in history and one of the best pound for pound fighters ever to grace the octagon.
Bisping, however, isn’t as enamoured of St-Pierre’s accomplishments as most observers, as he believes the Canadian icon’s ledger doesn’t hold up under intense scrutiny.
“He’s fought a lot of the same people over that period,” said the reigning middleweight champion. “He’s fought them multiple times. And if you go through the opponents. I mean, BJ Penn, who he fought twice or three times, he’s a featherweight, right? Johny Hendricks, I mean look at Johny Hendricks these days.
“Nick Diaz is a welterweight. Carlos Condit, oh, that’s a good win. Josh Koscheck, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves – lightweight. BJ Penn – featherweight. Matt Serra – lightweight. These are all smaller guys.”
“He always had that strength and size advantage,” Bisping added. “Now, he’ll probably be stronger than me in this fight, I don’t doubt it. Because he lifts a lot of weights and he’s doing his amino acids every morning and this and that. He’s a real athlete. But I’m a bigger natural guy and he’s not gonna have that advantage. So yeah, he’s great and he’s beaten a lot of competition. But he’s had competition that has been suited toward him size-wise and skill-wise. This is a different matter(via MMAFighting).”
Revisionism or not, it’s hard to deny that Bisping makes some interesting points. Though he found success at welterweight – winning the title from Matt Hughes in 2006 – and fought all the way up at heavyweight, BJ Penn competed primarily as a lightweight and in recent years has even campaigned at featherweight. Thiago Alves recently moved down to lightweight, Dan Hardy suggested that a move down to 155lbs might also be on the cards if he ever makes a comeback and Serra was a very small welterweight.
Hendricks, admittedly a purveyor of a completely different style than Bisping, was one of the few people whom St-Pierre faced that could really match him for size and though he hasn’t looked the same force since that night ‘Big Rig’ pushed GSP to the brink at UFC 167.
St-Pierre has undoubtedly gained some muscle mass in preparation for his jump to middleweight, but Bisping, who was a light-heavyweight for the first 3-plus years of his professional career and won The Ultimate Fighter season 3 at 205lbs, is by far the bigger man naturally.
How will St-Pierre deal with being the smaller man? It’s one of the most important questions heading into what is an intriguing fight.