Georges St-Pierre (pictured) will not be wasting any time in trying to capture a title upon his UFC return. However, instead of looking to reclaim the welterweight belt he voluntarily relinquished three years ago in order to “take a break” from MMA, St-Pierre will pursue Michael Bisping’s middleweight crown.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement during Wednesday’s edition of ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
White said the pair are scheduled to appear in Las Vegas this weekend to host a joint press conference. White did not reveal when or where the shootout will go down, but it is expected to take place in the second-half of 2017.
If victorious, St-Pierre will join BJ Penn, Randy Couture and Conor McGregor as the only fighters in UFC history to hold titles in two different weight classes.
St-Pierre was sitting firmly atop the UFC welterweight mountain when he voluntarily vacated his title and abruptly walked away from MMA in December 2013 at the peak of his illustrious career. GSP later revealed that the UFC’s lax drug testing policy was one of his primary reasons for leaving the game at the peak of his illustrious career.
The 35-year-old had stated he would never return to the UFC unless more rigorous drug testing was in place. In July of 2015, the UFC hired the USADA to conduct random, year-round drug tests on all of their athletes.
St-Pierre and the UFC then needed to iron out a new contract because the UFC signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok during GSP’s absence, which St-Pierre claimed would “cost him money” to fight because he was no longer allowed to wear Under Armour during fight week.
Both sides officially came to terms last month on a new deal, which paved the way for St-Pierre, the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw during his hayday, to essentially choose who his first opponent would be.
Bisping, meanwhile, has rattled off five straight wins en route to capturing the middleweight belt. After shocking the MMA world by knocking out Luke Rockhold to steal the gold, he posted a unanimous decision win over Dan Henderson in October in his first title defense.
Bisping has since been recovering from a fractured orbital and knee surgery. “The Count” said last month that he was counting on returning to the cage by May.
After 37 professional fights, spanning an up and down 13-year MMA career, this will mark Bisping’s biggest payday by a mile.
From a financial standpoint, the UFC will likely host this tango in St-Pierre’s homeland of Canada. If not, Las Vegas and then possibly in Bisping’s backyard of England.