Michael Bisping may not have fought at UFC Pittsburgh, but he still found his name attached to the event when main event winner Luke Rockhold called out Bisping’s next opponent, Georges St-Pierre, following Rockhold’s second-round submission over David Branch on Saturday night.
In his post-fight interview, Rockhold warned St-Pierre that he didn’t belong in the UFC middleweight division and demanded that St-Pierre “back out” of his UFC 217 title clash against Bisping before the longtime welterweight great got “crushed” by the Brit on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden. Rockhold also suggested that the Bisping fight was his fight to accept, not St-Pierre’s, and that he would be more than ready to take St-Pierre’s place at UFC 217.
After watching the scene, Bisping couldn’t help but laugh.
“I mean, Jesus Christ, the guy needs to really stop talking. He doesn’t do himself any favors whatsoever, God bless him,” Bisping said of Rockhold on Monday’s 400th episode of The MMA Hour. “The guy can’t string a sentence together. Lots of stuttering, lots of interruptions, lots of thinking. Saying that Georges isn’t going to make it into the Octagon and all this type of stuff — I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, you’ll know better than me, when’s the last time Georges has ever pulled out of a fight? Now that it’s official and we’re doing press and we’re both training, I don’t see Georges pulling out of this fight at all. Has he got a history of doing that? Not to my knowledge.”
Bisping and St-Pierre are slated to square off for the UFC middleweight title atop one of the biggest cards of the year at UFC 217. The fight marks St-Pierre’s most-discussed middleweight debut and signals an end to St-Pierre’s four-year hiatus away from the sport, prior to which he reigned as the most decorated welterweight champion in UFC history. Bisping vs. St-Pierre has been a controversial booking among the UFC’s 185-pound class, as numerous middleweight contenders have voiced their displeasure at St-Pierre being allowed to cut the line to a division he never once competed in.
Rockhold has been among the most vocal of those critics, and unsurprisingly so considering his contentious history with Bisping, who ended Rockhold’s UFC title reign with a stunning short-notice knockout win over the American in June 2016. Rockhold spent 15 months on the sidelines following his UFC 199 loss to Bisping, finally reemerging to take on Branch at UFC Pittsburgh. But while Rockhold ultimately defeated Branch via stoppage, he struggled through a shaky opening round in the contest, and Bisping was left unimpressed by what he saw on Saturday night.
“I thought that he looked very sloppy, if I’m honest,” Bisping said of Rockhold. “He has a problem with people that can box, people that can get inside. He landed some good shots, the other guy David Branch, and if he had a bit more pop, he could’ve taken Luke out of there. So yeah, listen, congratulations, job well done. [Rockhold] got the finish in the second round, but he needs to be careful, because there’s a lot that could’ve been improved upon, let’s say that.”
Bisping said he graded Rockhold’s performance in the cage as a “B-minus” or a “C,” but it was Rockhold’s post-fight rant that left Bisping scratching his head more than anything else.
“I noticed that Luke didn’t say my name either,” Bisping said. “He couldn’t bring himself to do it. He talked lots of sh*t and he implied my name many, many times, but he never actually went ahead and said it, which I thought was very cute. But listen, good for him, he’s back on track. Obviously he wants to get a rematch, he wants to get his belt back, and that’s what he should want to do, God bless him. I mean, we’re all fighters, we all want to be champion, so he’s doing the right thing. I don’t fault him for anything he said, really. He’s trying to make noise, he’s trying to get a title fight again. Ultimately, he chose to take 15 months off. He went away from the sport for a little bit, and he’s back and good for him.
“But as we just discussed, Georges is a professional, and if he makes a deal, I expect him to be there, and I would beat my life on Georges turning up. So if that’s what Luke is hoping for, then he’s wasting his time and energy there.”