Georges St-Pierre announced last week he would be ready to fight Michael Bisping in his UFC return “anytime after October,” but that didn’t sit well with Dana White.
The UFC president went on Fox Sports Australia’s UFC Fight Week Thursday and said that fight is no longer the plan.
“Michael Bisping is going to have to defend his title [against someone else] now. We’re not waiting for GSP,” White said.
St-Pierre, a former welterweight champion, vacated his title and took an indefinite leave of absence in 2013 following a split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. He confirmed in 2016 his intention to return to the Octagon and in February of this year the soon-to-be-36-year-old came to terms on a new contract with the UFC. In March it was announced his first fight back would be against middleweight champion Bisping.
The matchup between St-Pierre and Bisping, although intriguing, was met with criticism since it meant the rest of the 185-pound division would be tied up. What made the fight extra confusing is the fact middleweight is brimming with viable title challengers at the moment—not to mention Bisping’s only other title defence was against a 44-year-old Dan Henderson who was not ranked in the top 10 at the time.
Fighters like No. 1 contender Yoel Romero plus former champions Luke Rockhold and Anderson Silva said they would refuse to accept any fight unless it was for an interim title. Rockhold was happy upon hearing Thursday's news.
St-Pierre (25-2) hasn’t fought in nearly four years and has never competed at middleweight yet White and the UFC allowed him to jump in line by booking him against Bisping.
“This does not make sense,” Silva said in a recent interview. “This is disrespectful to all fighters in this category.”
White said now that St-Pierre vs. Bisping appears to be off the plan is to have Bisping defend his title against Romero.
“I made this GSP fight. We did a press conference. The thing was supposed to happen in July,” White explained. “[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 was coming back. Bisping, St-Pierre, they both wanted that fight. We asked Yoel to step aside, he did. It doesn’t look like that fight is gonna happen now.”
During St-Pierre’s hiatus, White repeatedly doubted the Canadian’s desire to return and said he didn’t think GSP had the drive to fight again.
“Georges St-Pierre is saying he will not be ready to compete now until November,” White added. “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.”