Georges St. Pierre is coming back after four years off from MMA, and that is the only variable that gives Michael Bisping a sporting chance in this fight. If GSP feels as fresh as he says he does, then his comeback will be a walk in the park. Styles make fights, and here’s the breakdown as to why this fight at UFC 217 is a bad matchup for Michael Bisping:
Bisping can’t defend angled takedowns
The knee tap and single leg chest pressure have always been Bisping’s achilles heel. Repeatedly throughout the years, these takedowns have taken advantage of the fact that Bisping has limited lateral movement in his hips. This is the same reason why he doesn’t seem to have much pop in his punches, he doesn’t turn his hips enough. CB Dollaway had a hell of a time trying to drive straight through a double leg, but effortlessly spun Bisping to the ground with a basic single leg finish.
Once someone swivels their hips on him, he has a hard time keeping up. This will be a huge problem against someone that utilizes angles so well in their takedowns like GSP. He finishes single and double leg takedowns on fighters with high-level wrestling experience because he knows how to time his shot and drive at the right angle.
Bisping is hard to clinch up with, but GSP won’t use the clinch for upper body trips and suplexes. He’ll drop down for single and double legs. While Bisping is usually good at peeling people off of those, the fact is he’s not good at dealing with people that know how to turn the corner. He loses in exchanges that require lateral hip movement, and when GSP uses angles to finish his shots, that inability to keep up will literally lead to his downfall.
Bisping walks into GSP’s best punch
As mentioned earlier, Bisping’s lack of pop in his punches is largely due to his poor lateral hip mobility. This also effects his striking defences, as it causes him to back up in a straight line, regardless of direction. His tendency to lean in on those arm punches when he enters the pocket also makes it harder for him to back away at the right angle.
A fighter with GSP’s footwork and jab will exploit that all day. He will be a step ahead of Bisping and frustrate him by throwing that jab from places Bisping didn’t think it could come from.
The worst part about that is that Bisping disengages from trouble at an angle that leaves him in prime position for an overhand right or left hook. We saw it against Henderson twice, and the fact is he’s made this mistake his whole career. GSP loves using the overhand right off of an established jab. So when Bisping gets frustrated by the jab and backs up in a straight direction with minimal lateral hip movement, he will be greeted with a big right hand over the top.
Large gap in BJJ skill
Chael Sonnen has said that nobody has felt as heavy as GSP did on him when they trained, and that’s because GSP’s been training BJJ with John Danaher for nearly a decade. For those that don’t know, Danaher is arguably the best no-gi grappling coach in the world, and has turned out multiple champions in that sport. His work with GSP has helped him control and gain dominant position on some of the best guard players in the UFC.
Michael Bisping has a very basic guard. He uses it defensively for the most part, and uses a bit of trickery to get back to his feet. He gets on his side and puts his legs on one side to make it seem like you’re passing. But he’s actually baiting you to use that space he now has on one side to get up, posting off of his opponent in the process to prevent them from following him. But a BJJ expert with a top game as elite as GSP’s will adjust his weight in response and keep Michael pinned before getting into a more dominant position.
GSP has the highest guard passing rate in the UFC, and that dominance will be crystallized through his performance at UFC 217.
The size advantage isn’t what it’s made out to be
Bisping’s size isn’t even that much of an advantage; Bisping is slightly taller by two inches, but actually has a slightly shorter reach. Bisping might outweigh him by about 10 pounds on fight night, but GSP is probably stronger and definitely more athletic, so the physical advantage isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
GSP will definitely have to watch out for heavier-handed punches from the larger man. But the truth is that Bisping was never known as a power puncher, so that weight disadvantage won’t pose the same problems as it would if GSP were fighting Whittaker or Romero.
Again, the only reason GSP should lose this fight is if his body has fallen off a cliff in his four years out of the sport. But I think for a fighter with his mental stresses and physical aches, the time off helped him heal and he’ll come back looking better than ever.
Look for GSP to wear Bisping down with smart striking and well-timed takedowns before submitting him late or earning a dominant decision.