A little less than three weeks ago, Georges St-Pierre made history when he captured the middleweight championship after taking four years off from the sport. With this, Michael Bisping was dethroned at 185 pounds, and while many expected him to call it quits after such a devastating loss, he was not ready to walk away from the game and said that it wasn’t over.
But nobody expected his next fight to be less than a month after his speech. As unbelievable as it is, we now have the chance to watch the former middleweight champion headline two cards in less than a month’s time. Bisping will step in for Anderson Silva in Shanghai at UFC Fight Night 122 against Kelvin Gastelum.
There are many ways to look at this. An admirable attitude, a foolish attempt or even a desperation move. Nonetheless, it is a decision and a step up that should be respected. Very few men have been brave enough to make such short turnarounds, especially after a loss. And for Bisping to do it against someone like Kelvin Gastelum, who is one of the best prospects in the middleweight division, it makes it that much more praiseworthy.
However, the fact that this is a very risky fight for ‘The Count’ should not be ignored. There is a lot here at stake for Bisping, at least a lot more for him than Gastelum, and it’s because Bisping can still find his way to another title shot with possibly one significant win. The UFC’s official rankings dragged Bisping down two spots after his loss to GSP, and Gastelum currently sits at No. 9. Of course before anything, the titles must be unified between GSP and Robert Whittaker, but as soon as that business gets finished, then there is still a shortcut for Bisping to earn his way back to a title shot. In order to do that, Bisping needs to go through at least one more top contender, whether it is Yoel Romero, Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza or Chris Weidman. That’s by no means an easy path for Bisping, but it’s plausible.
If Bisping does not come away with the win this Saturday, his chances of working back to the title shot is likely gone, considering that the middleweight division is slowly getting filled with up-and-coming prospects. He has stated that he wants his last fight to be in London in March of next year, which is certainly possible regardless of the result this weekend. But if Bisping wants to have another crack at the title, then this fight against Gastelum fight is certainly not the route that he wants to take. Gastelum possesses extraordinary speed with his hands that make him stand out in the division, and while size may not be on his side, he has very solid techniques and in nearly every fight of his career, he has shown it.
Gastelum is not a good match-up for Bisping and he has so much to gain against the former champion. A win could spring him into the title picture, which would make things a whole lot more interesting in the top of the division.
No matter what the result is this weekend, Bisping’s decision to take this fight on short notice proves that he is still one of the toughest and most fearless fighters in the world. Although he may be a villain to the fans, there won’t be many like him once he walks away from the sport. So enjoy him while you can, folks. You will miss him when he’s gone.