Just one week after Georges St-Pierre choked him unconscious and relieved him of the middleweight title at UFC 217 in New York City, Michael Bisping is back on the UFC schedule.
And it’s not for early next year or even next month. No, it’s for November 25th, folks. That’s just two weeks from now.
On Friday, the news broke that former UFC middleweight champion and pound for pound king Anderson Silva had been flagged for a potential anti-doping policy violation by USADA. Thus, he was removed from the UFC Fight Night 122 card in Shanghai – which he was due to headline opposite Kelvin Gastelum.
Less than 24 hours later, MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani reported that Bisping had agreed to step in to replace Silva and late last night the promotion made the fight official.
Due to a combination of injury problems and scheduling complications surrounding his fight with ‘GSP’, the 38-year-old Bisping, who fought three times between late February and early October of 2016, was out of action for almost 13 months before UFC 217. Perhaps this quick turnaround is a way to make up for lost time.
Gastelum won season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter at middleweight but subsequently dropped to 170lbs. He found success there initially, winning four straight, but he had trouble making the welterweight limit. A January 2015 loss to Tyron Woodley took place at a catchweight of 180lbs because Gastelum missed weight.
Gastelum went up to 185lbs after that and finished Nate Marquardt, but he soon returned to 170, recording a loss to Neil Magny and a win over Johny Hendricks. His weight-management woes continued though, and he was eventually forced to move back up to middleweight.
Since committing to life as a 185-pounder, he has gone 1-1 with 1 No Contest. An impressive win stoppage win over Tim Kennedy was followed by a TKO of Vitor Belfort in Brazil. The Belfort result was later changed to a NC however, when Gastelum tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) – a marijuana metabolite. He was also pulled from a scheduled fight with Silva at UFC 212 as a result of the positive test.
Last time out, Gastelum was submitted by former middleweight champ Chris Weidman at the Nassau Coliseum in July.