UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping wants to defend his title against either Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz at UFC 206 in Toronto on December 10.
Former welterweight king St-Pierre (25-2) has not fought since a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks in November 2013, after which he vacated his title to take an extended break from mixed martial arts.
The Canadian superstar has signalled his intent to return to the octagon in recent months and was targeting a fight in Toronto, but he has so far been unable to strike a deal with the UFC over the conditions of his comeback.
A win over all-time great St-Pierre would cap a remarkable year for the 37-year-old Bisping that has already seen him beat arguably the most dominant champion in UFC history in Anderson Silva, capture the middleweight title by knocking out Luke Rockhold and defeat future Hall-of-Famer Dan Henderson in front of his hometown fans in Manchester.
However, with UFC 206 just over six weeks away, it looks increasingly unlikely St.Pierre will be part of the card.
“In a perfect world, for me, I’d fight Georges St-Pierre in six weeks’ time,” Bisping said on his SiriusXM radio show. “That’s just around the corner and all the other guys are tied up.
“Georges St-Pierre would be the biggest payday of my career, bar none. So excuse me for trying to get the biggest payday of my career. It would end off a perfect year for me.
“I’ve had the best year of my career and to finish it off with a guy like Georges St-Pierre, another legend, a former champion, a Hall of Famer, a guy who was a pioneer of the sport and undoubtedly a guy who was, pound for pound, one of the best in the history of this sport.
“To beat him and to get my biggest payday – that would end the best year of my career. And my next fight would be against Chris Weidman. In a perfect world, that is what I would like.”
If the St-Pierre fight cannot be made, Bisping would still like to compete at UFC 206 and he has an interesting alternative opponent in mind.
“I’m down to fight ASAP because Dana and the UFC put this in my mind, fighting at 206,” Bisping said. “So now in my mind I want to fight at 206.
“I was ready to take the rest of the year off and do nothing and enjoy being the champion and have some time with my kids and go away for Thanksgiving. But then this was put in my mind again and now I want to fight in Toronto.
“So yeah, if it’s not going to be GSP, I don’t mind being on the card against somebody else and Nick Diaz is somebody else that moves the needle.
“His last fight was against Anderson Silva so he’s fought at 185 lbs, and if Nick Diaz wants to do it, I’ll fight Nick Diaz. If anybody wants to do it, I’ll do it.”
If Bisping was booked to fight either St-Pierre or Diaz, it would be likely to infuriate the long line of middleweight contenders queuing for a shot at the champion.
The top four contenders are due to square off in the next month with No 2 Chris Weidman taking on No 4 Yoel Romero at UFC 205 on November 12 and No 1 Rockhold fighting No 3 Jacare Souza on November 26.
Bisping insists he is not ducking any of them and is only focused on maximising his earnings while he is champion.
Bisping said: “All the other middleweights [are] basically saying I’m looking for easy fights, which is annoying me because of course Henderson wasn’t the rightful No 1 contender. The UFC offered me that fight. And Georges St-Pierre isn’t the rightful No 1 contender but he was the one talking to me for the fight.
“I’m not out here looking for easy pickings. I’ll fight anybody as long as it makes sense business-wise. I’m not going to risk my reputation and my title against some chump, but if there’s a lot of money on the line, then I’ll do it.
“And if Nick Diaz wants to go at UFC 206, formally, officially, I invite you to sign the bout agreement. Let’s do it.
“And then after that, whoever wins more impressively of the top four middleweights – Rockhold, Weidman, Yoel, and Souza – I’ll fight after this. That will happen. 100 per cent.
“Believe you me, I want to fight Chris Weidman. Out of the four of them – I’ve already beat Rockhold – Weidman is the one I want to fight.”