When Georges “Rush” St-Pierre announced he was stepping away from the UFC following his fight with Johny Hendricks in 2013, the sport of MMA was plunged into a state of mourning. For nearly a decade, St-Pierre was the face of the UFC. And in his absence, the sport has struggled to find stars other than anomalies like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
When St-Pierre announced his return, many expected he would be given a shot against Tyron Woodley for a chance to win back the title he vacated. But few could predict that the UFC would instead give GSP a title fight against Middleweight champion, Michael Bisping.
To say that there are no middleweight fighters that deserve a title shot is a lie. Jacaré Souza has done more than enough to earn the right to fight for gold. All told, he has simply been astonishing during his UFC tenure. Yoel Romero is perhaps the most deserving of a title shot right now. And, the fact that he holds wins over both Chris Weidman and Souza is beyond impressive. I believe that both Romero and Souza should, and will, get title shots in due course. But right now, the fight to make is Bisping versus St-Pierre.
Fighting was once a meritocracy and I am all for the reintroduction of this philosophy, but the likelyhood of that happening is shockingly low. Since being sold in 2016, UFC’s new owners have shown no interest in upholding the old mantra of having the best fight the best. Instead, the promotion is all about making money. And as far as money-making matches go, Bisping—St-Pierre is the one to make for the UFC title. And on merit alone, St-Pierre also has a strong case for requesting any fight that his heart desires.
GSP is perhaps the most important fighter in UFC’s history. He has been a role model inside the cage as well as outside of it. Through his performances in the cage, St-Pierre revolutionized the sport of MMA. He is the consummate professional and extremely well-rounded.
St-Pierre has trail blazed the sport in Canada, broken boundaries for the UFC in new markets and brought mainstream attention to it all while looking immaculate in his performances. After defending his title nine consecutive times, GSP has proved that he can beat the best at 170 pounds. So, why not give him a shot at middleweight gold?
Criticism towards Michael Bisping is also unwarranted. To say Bisping is afraid to fight anyone is absurd. If you have any interest in MMA, you will know that Bisping has never purposefully taken the easy route. Instead, he has sought out the tougher fights in going against Rockhold, Belfort and Sonnen when nobody else was willing to. Bisping himself was a perennial contender and knows all too well the pain of being overlooked for a title shot.
Whether you like or loathe UFC’s new matchmaking policies, you must respect Georges St-Pierre’s right to fight for the title. If you were for giving McGregor a shot at the lightweight division but against this fight, then you are a hypocrite. Romero and Souza will get a title shot eventually, but this is perhaps the only opportunity to make a super-fight between Bisping and St-Pierre.