As it turns out, Georges St. Pierre has a pretty good reason for not wanting to make his UFC return until November.
During an interview at the C2 Montreal Conference on Friday, the former welterweight champion revealed that an eye injury rendered him unable to face Michael Bisping for the middleweight title this summer.
"I needed to have a surgery done. It takes a longer time. The UFC was aware of it,” St. Pierre said. “They knew I medically couldn't fight during the summer, but they still insisted on doing that press conference with Michael and I. My team and I were not very excited about it. We wanted to fight Michael, but we didn’t want to make the announcement right away. But for business purposes they wanted to push it to make the announcement.”
The aforementioned press conference took place in March, and UFC President Dana White initially targeted UFC 213 on July 8 for the bout. When St. Pierre hinted that he would not be ready until late in 2017, White said the fight was off and that Bisping would make his next 185-pound title defense against Yoel Romero. All the negative speculation prompted St. Pierre to reveal the reason for his delayed return – even though he was advised against doing so.
“Most people are thinking I just don’t want to fight in the summer….the real reason is a medical reason,” he said. “My health is great. It’s a little thing; it needs time to heal. But I cannot start sparring before September. If I can’t start sparring until September, that means the fight can be any time after October.”
Meanwhile, Bisping has been slow to recover from a knee surgery undergone earlier this year, so he likely would not have been able to compete in the summer anyway. In the meantime, the Las Vegas-based promotion has booked an interim middleweight championship clash between Romero and Robert Whittaker at UFC 213. Whether Bisping returns to defend against the winner of that fight or against St. Pierre remains to be seen. What is clear is that St. Pierre still wants to face “The Count.”
“I always said that if I would come back it needed to be a fight that would excite me. Fighting Michael Bisping was something that was really exciting [to] me and was exciting [to] him as well,” he said. “I felt that if I come back I need a fight that would elevate me. He was champion in a higher division, it was exciting and it would elevate me.
“Everybody wants to fight me because they know that sometimes they’re going to make twice as much money as fighting another guy because I sell a lot of pay-per-views. I also know that if I’m fighting someone I would make him a very big purse. As much as I dislike Michael Bisping because of his attitude, I admire him as an athlete. He is one of the athletes that’s paid his dues in the sport. He’s one of the athletes that had the courage to stand against the doping problem in the sport.”
The full Georges St. Pierre interview, which was first reported on by MMAFighting.com, can be viewed in the video below beginning at approximately 1:13:15.