It’s tough to turn down a fight when an opponent still hasn’t been offered.
That’s the message from middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who says that the UFC hasn’t officially given him a date or an opponent for his next title defense when he returns later this year.
Despite claims from top contender Yoel Romero as well as his management that Bisping is ducking a matchup with the former Olympic silver medalist, the champion has a much different version of the story.
Article continues below ...
It’s the one where Bisping is still waiting on the UFC to make an offer and then at that point, he can accept whoever the promotion puts in front of him.
“I’ve never ducked anybody and certainly now that I’ve got the belt you can’t do that,” Bisping explained on the latest “UFC Unfiltered” podcast. “Of course, now when you’re in that position you do want to try and make smart business choices but you’ve got to fight the best guys. After I won the belt off Luke Rockhold, the UFC called me a couple of days later and offered me Dan Henderson and I know that ruffled a few feathers in the middleweight division. Now people want more than ever for me to face the No. 1 contender.
“So great, I’ve got no problem doing that. I want to do that. I don’t want my legacy as somebody that avoids the best guys. Far from it. I fought the best guys my entire career, why am I going to stop doing that when I become the champion? That doesn’t make sense. But also at the same time, I want to capitalize on this position that I’m in. So we’ll see. I haven’t been offered anything official from the UFC but if the offer’s Yoel Romero, [expletive] it, I’m all for it.”
In recent weeks, Romero has been burning up social media by taking shots at Bisping at every turn and he even went as far as creating a GoFundMe page asking for funds to help pay for the champion’s medical expenses after they are finished fighting.
Even Bisping had a laugh at that one and says he’ll gladly accept the money that Romero has collected in his name.
“He’s been on a tirade of abuse lately and as I say, god bless him, you’ve got to do what you can do to get fights and get noticed in this game. He set up a GoFundMe page, it was kind of cute but I will take that money,” Bisping said. “There’s like $220 in that GoFundMe so the joke’s on you [expletive].
“I’m going to take that money, I’m going go to a spa and get a nice massage and maybe a glass of champagne and that’s all on Yoel Romero so thank you very much.”
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
While Bisping says he would gladly accept a fight with Romero, there’s no denying the other possible opponent that’s lurking nearby as Georges St-Pierre has inked a new deal to return to the UFC and has expressed interest in moving up to middleweight for his first fight back.
The UFC was deep in negotiations with St-Pierre and his team last year in an attempt to put together a fight with Bisping in December, but talks failed and the bout never came together.
Now with St-Pierre officially back on the UFC roster, Bisping would welcome the chance to face him in his return bout.
“Here’s the thing as I said, if they offer me the No. 1 contender, I’ll take the No. 1 contender. If they offer me GSP, I’d be a fool not to take GSP so of course, I’d take GSP,” Bisping said. “If they offer that fight, which as I said there’s been no word on that yet, I hope they do.
“GSP coming back after three years, I think it’s a tough fight for GSP if I’m honest. Fighters know the hardest part, of course, fighting is very, very physical, but the hardest part is the mental aspect, the self-doubt, the inner demons and GSP kind of had a tough fight against Johny Hendricks last time out and I think spending three years away coming back, stepping up a weight class and fighting me, I think that’s a bad idea for Georges St-Pierre. If he wants to do it, god bless. I see that fight ending pretty well for me.”
For now, Bisping will continue to recover from recent knee surgery as he plots his course to return later this year while still waiting on the UFC to determine his next opponent.