UFC 217 is one of the biggest cards of the year so it’s fitting it’ll take place on one of the world’s biggest stages at Madison Square Garden in New York City (Saturday, November 4th).
In the main event of the evening, UFC middleweight champion Michael “The Count” Bisping (31-7) will defend his title against one of the greatest fighters to have ever walked into the Octagon in Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (25-2).
About four years ago, GSP vacated his welterweight title and walked away from the sport, saying that he no longer enjoyed the rigors of being a longtime UFC champion. The Canadian had cleaned out the welterweight division, made fat stacks of cash, and decided to take a hiatus. It was never truly called “retirement” but as the years rolled by some wondered if GSP would ever fight again.
Fast forward to the present, and not only are we going to see the return of St-Pierre, but he has decided to move up in weight and play with the big boys, something the current middleweight champ and brash Brit Bisping took exception to at a UFC 217 press conference:
He didn’t want to fight Anderson Silva when he was the champion. He didn’t want to fight Luke Rockhold when he was the champion. So he’s looking at me as easy pickings … That’s why he’s focused on fighting me so much. And for all this talk, I say Georges is a fraud. And Canada, who looks at him as their champion — Canada’s champion is a fucking fraud.
“The Count” isn’t entirely wrong in his assessment. If you were GSP and you wanted to not only make a big splash on your return, why not go after a 38-year-old fighter who competes at a somewhat attainable weight class and has a big mouth?
Bisping loves to talk and sell fights and, thus, presented Georges with the perfect opportunity to not only add to his legacy by winning another title in a different weight class but to make beaucoup du dollars while doing it.
For bettors, there isn’t a lot of money to be made betting on the moneyline for this fight.
When the bout was first announced, GSP was a slight favorite at -155 compared to Bisping as a +125 underdog. However, those odds have shifted, and now the fight is practically even according to Bovada and My Bookie. There might be a little more movement as we get closer to the fight, but that’s about where the odds will close.
Sportsbooks and bettors alike are concerned about Georges’ Octagon rust and the fact that he’s taking on a larger fighter. Bettors should keep both of those factors in mind before placing a bet. That said, the 36-year-old legend has been training throughout his hiatus, and it’s hard to imagine he’d be making this comeback if he felt old and slow.
Another reason to like GSP is that Bisping has had injury, issues including a gruesome detached retina in his right eye courtesy of Vitor Belfort back in 2013. He likes to brag that he has been an active fighter but he hasn’t fought in a year due to knee surgery and other ailments. He could be starting to break down and is contemplating retirement himself. Don’t think for a second that Bisping’s left knee and right eye won’t be a target. It’s amazing what a good jab and leg kick can do.
GSP vs Bisping: The Prediction
In my opinion, the time off won’t play a factor. Both men have great cardio and an excellent standup game. GSP uses his jab and strikes to set up takedowns. He also likes to wear his opponents down against the cage, sapping their energy until they are consumed by the GSP blanket and proceeding to rain elbows to the face and body. He is almost machine-like in his ground and pound and his jiu-jitsu is high level.
Bisping, on the other hand, has the reach advantage and knows how to use it. He loves to use a variety of kicks including a left kick to the head. He’s great at peppering his opponents with a variety of strikes including knees to the body. His kickboxing game is underrated and can cause a lot of damage over a five-round fight.
St. Pierre has always benefited from incredible explosiveness and athleticism but does he still have that four years later? Bisping has never had to rely on that, instead, he can take a licking and keep on ticking. No matter how beat up he gets in a fight, you can never count out “The Count,” as we saw at UFC 204 against Dan Henderson. He has an underrated fight-IQ and, while he may come off as brash and disrespectful, he is as cunning as a fox inside the cage.
In the end, St-Pierre’s wrestling prowess will be the difference-maker. He’s used it throughout his career to completely and utterly dominate fights, to the extent that some have been excruciatingly boring. To this day, he holds the record for most consecutive rounds won at 33. The former welterweight champion also holds the record for most takedowns landed in UFC history with 87 and his takedown accuracy of 74% is second-best all time. Meanwhile, Bisping’s takedown defense is overrated. The trio of Chael Sonnen, Matt Hamill, and CB Dollaway — all strong wrestlers — landed 64% of their takedown attempts and combined to take him down 12 times. Those are significant stats that bettors shouldn’t ignore.
Bisping is not elusive on his feet, either. The middleweight champ has absorbed 2.39 significant strikes per minute in his UFC career. During his last six fights, that increased to 3.2 significant strikes per minute, which means he is susceptible to GSP’s Freddie Roach-trained boxing. So even if Bisping can keep the fight on the ground, it could still be a long five-rounds for the champ.
Winner: Georges “Rush” St. Pierre by decision (-115)
UFC 217 ODDS
Georges St- Pierre: -115
Michael Bisping: -115
Method of Victory
Georges St. Pierre by decision or technical decision: 3/2
Georges St. Pierre by KO, TKO or DQ: 17/3
Georges St. Pierre by submission: 6/1
Michael Bisping by decision or technical decision: 7/3
Michael Bisping by KO, TKO or DQ: 19/1
Michael Bisping by submission: 25/1
Draw or Technical draw: 100/1