Bisping & GSP Battle For Legacy
If there is one thing sports fans and especially fight fans love, the comeback. Whether it was the Red Sox or the Cavs fighting down three games to one, or the Patriots coming back to stomp out the Falcons, sports fans always anticipate the comeback.
We’ve already seen the comeback of one fighter this year in Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather returned to boxing after a two-year layoff, to defeat Conor McGregor this past August. Now, on Saturday night inside the confines of Madison Square Garden, Georges St-Pierre returns after nearly a half decade away from the sport for a shot at the UFC middleweight title.
GSP is considered a legend among fans of the UFC. His first run set a pace that could rarely be matched inside the cage, making memeable comments such as “I am not impressed with his performance” following a Matt Hughes fight, and casting an imposing glare while walking to the Octagon, GSP was one of the defining faces of UFC.
Now, four years later a lot has changed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, gone are the Fertitta brothers, who bought the UFC, and installed Dana White in a last-ditch effort to save the failing organization. Now in power is WME-IMG, a powerhouse media and talent agency operated by Ari Emmanuel. And while White still acts as the President of the organization, many of St-Pierre’s contemporaries are gone from the UFC. Now, a younger breed of fighter led by Conor McGregor are the focal point of the organization. McGregor’s star has risen to such a level, that he demands not only top dollar for his fights, also co-promoter status. Will Saint-Pierre be able to thrive in this generation of the UFC?
There is no doubting St-Pierre’s skills, record, and resume, but is this a one night return for GSP? Is the money, the opponent, and the location the only reason the French-Canadian star has returned? Is this a reunion tour for the former champion, or is this his version of the “Last Waltz” for the organization he called home?
Standing across the cage is Michael Bisping. The current middleweight champion debuted in the UFC two years after Saint-Pierre, as a member of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, in 2006.
A man caught between generations. Bisping did not capture his first UFC title until his tenth year inside the Octagon. He would accomplish that goal when he defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016. In his second defense as middleweight champion, Bisping stands across from a surefire hall of famer. Yet, Bisping isn’t deterred. He faced another legend, Anderson Silva in February of 2016. Not only did Bisping able to win the fight, he did so by unanimous decision.
While Saint-Pierre is two years younger than Bisping, the Montreal native represents the UFC’s past. Bisping has been with the UFC for eleven years, and in that time he’s with the sport. Going from just a charismatic fighter, he has become one of the analysts for FOX SPORTS’ UFC coverage. Taking on the role of fighter, analyst, broadcaster, and even podcaster, Bisping has embraced the digital growth of Mixed Martial Arts and the power of digital branding.
Will the power of Georges Saint-Pierre’s legacy be enough to get him over the wall one more time? Or will four years away be long enough for his name to join the list of greats who have come back for one more run and see it fade away in the blink of an eye?