"I'm back in the jungle," Georges St-Pierre said on a recent episode of UFC Embedded when the Canadian walked through the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, where UFC 209 will take place this Saturday. GSP’s journey back to the Octagon also included a press conference with his future opponent Michael Bisping.
The middleweight champion welcomed St-Pierre with old-fashioned trash talk—a part of the MMA game GSP has never really been interested in. Bisping, seemingly having spent too much time at the hotel bar before showing up, chose to point out that he has a significant size advantage over St-Pierre. It is certainly an interesting way to sell this fight when the English trash talker even calls GSP a “midget”.
It did not hurt Conor McGregor when he insulted his opponents at featherweight for their smaller size, but he won all of his fights. If Bisping, probably offended by the thought that GSP might consider him the easier fight compared to the possible champions at welterweight, sticks to the ‘script’ he had prepared for their press conference on Friday, he is forced to win. And even if he emerges victorious, in his words, he would just beat a “midget”.
GSP, meanwhile, seemed to be unimpressed by Bisping's press conference performance. Before his opponent showed up late in true McGregor fashion, he spoke about how he views his current capabilities. “I’m not gonna be the old GSP. If I come back as the same Georges St-Pierre I used to be when I was very successful I’m gonna have a very bad night the night of the fight,” he said. “I believe I’ve reached the perfect peak of athleticism, knowledge and wisdom as a fighter and I’m gonna prove it to everyone.”
When asked about the decision to fight Bisping for the middleweight title instead of going for his old welterweight belt, GSP drew an analogy to the stock market. Right now Bisping's stock is high, he said insisting that Tyron Woodley or Stephen Thompson who are fighting for the welterweight crone at UFC 209 this weekend are not moving the needle, as Dana White would put it.
Speaking of White, he appears to be offended when someone brings up the point that GSP is currently UFC's biggest star and a lifesaver in the absence of McGregor and Jon Jones. On the stock market, GSP is the most valuable of all available entities. But that does not mean the Canadian does not want to have a dance partner that can draw eyeballs as well.
St-Pierre, the smart fighter and businessman that he is, admitted that there is not much time left for the soon-36-year-old. Thus how realistic is it that he would defend the middleweight belt against a freak athlete like Yoel Romero or the 6’3’’ tall Luke Rockhold who would tower over him? GSP's statement could rather hint at potential dream fights against McGregor and Anderson Silva. He would fill his own and the UFC's bank account. That White speaks differently about GSP than a few months ago after having “dinner and breakfast” with him could mean that GSP is willing to deliver the main event fights which can sell pay-per-views. Bisping is only the first stage of his journey.
He chose Bisping for several reasons; one of them is that the current title holder can be his perfect foe. A trash talker versus the polite, well-spoken St-Pierre, that concept has worked out beautifully several times throughout GSP's career. And while Bisping claimed the sport has moved on, pointing at the improved doping testing, the way to sell a fight has not changed since GSP left the jungle in which he now returns eyeing the position as the alpha animal once again.