Date: Saturday 4th November
Location: New York City, New York
Venue: Madison Square Garden
The wait is over and Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre has finally been cemented for UFC 217. Bisping makes his anticipated comeback from injury to defend his belt for the second time but this return only plays host to the most anticipated return in UFC history. Georges St-Pierre (GSP) emerges out of retirement after four years to make his debut as a middleweight, jumping the queue of contenders for what many are calling a ‘superfight’.
GSP surprisingly retired after defeating Johny Hendricks in 2013 and left the octagon as the best welterweight of all time and with the most wins in UFC history. At this point, Bisping was struggling to string two wins together in the tenaciously competitive middleweight division. However, in the ensuing four year period, after many wrote off the Brit, Bisping triumphantly climbed up the middleweight rankings, defeated Luke Rockhold to earn the belt, defended it against Dan Henderson and stole the mantle of the most UFC wins, edging past GSP’s record of 19.
UFC 167 – GSP retires
This is a fight between two legends, two future ‘hall-of-famers’, the former king of the welterweight division and the current king of the middleweight division. This match-up is colossal and we have the stats to prove it.
First, let’s take a look at how their stats match up and compare with the rest of the roster:
In general, their stats are remarkably impressive with at least one of them coming in the top five in almost all of these areas. It is no secret that Bisping has taken some damage throughout his career but they have both delivered a vast amount of punishment themselves, with GSP proving his exceptional defence.
The takedown stats could prove an interesting insight into the fight as GSP relies on his wrestling whereas Bisping relies on his takedown defence to keep the fight standing. Although GSP has been out for four years, he still has the most takedowns in the UFC with 87 with an astounding accuracy of 73.70%. Bisping’s defence is still impressive with 69% considering the number of elite grapplers he has faced but GSP’s stats are impossible to ignore.
So, how do their striking and grappling stats compare with each other?
It is no surprise GSP edges the grappling stats as he is one of the best grapplers in UFC history. Bisping is a great grappler in his own right but his takedown defence will be key to any success and avoiding ending up on his back. Although GSP takes less damage, Bisping is the superior striker and if his size can aid him in avoiding the inevitable takedown, he will look to inflict his usual relentless output of strikes.
So, how do they match up physically? Let’s look at the tale of the tape:
Many assume that the step up in weight will be the biggest obstacle for GSP. There is a 15-pound difference between welterweight (170 lbs) and middleweight (185 lbs) and considering Bisping started his career as a light heavyweight (205 lbs), you would assume he will have the size and power advantage.
The ‘expected weight’ is roughly how much they will weigh when they step into the cage. Fighters generally deplete their bodies in time for the weigh-in and then rehydrate in time for the fight the following day. So after the weigh-in, Bisping will refuel back towards his natural weight whereas GSP weighs around the middleweight limit of 185 lbs naturally.
So Bisping obviously has the size advantage but GSP is not your average athlete and with minimal weight to cut he will be sufficiently energized for the fight. He will be immensely strong and as Chael Sonnen claimed;
“I’ve fought Bisping twice, I’ve worked out with Georges a couple times...Georges is the stronger guy”.
Georges is a beast but the big question is; can he overpower a middleweight like Bisping like he has done with all of his welterweight victims? Interestingly, he also has the reach advantage which will be a huge factor in the fight. Bisping relies on a constant output of punches at the end of his range to break down his opponents but GSP possess a thunderous jab which he throws from a distance that could stifle Bisping’s attacks and set up his takedowns.
The uncertainty of how their attributes will match up and how GSP will perform after four years out is what inflates the anticipation of this fight. If it is anything to go by, the last time we saw two champion calibre opponents from different weight classes fight was in fact when GSP fought BJ Penn (lightweight) in a rematch when they were both champions of their respective weight classes.
See below for the stats from that fight:
The difference turned out to be in the size and power when these two fighters collided at welterweight in their prime.
Many believed Penn could be the solution to GSP’s strengths with world class Jiu-Jitsu that could counter the wrestling of GSP. However, the latter's strength, power and cardio was simply too much for Penn. He controlled him in the clinch and on the mat for the duration of the fight.
Could Bisping now prove the solution to GSP’s power? The Canadian has never fought anyone as big as Bisping and with stamina and heart that will not give an inch until the last second of the fight, this truly promises to be an intense and ferocious encounter worthy of a ‘superfight’.
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.