UFC 217 Cheat Sheet -- Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping

Bisping says fight will not go well for GSP (0:52)

Michael Bisping is very confident and believes himself to be the better fighter as he prepares to fight Georges St.- Pierre at MMA 217. (0:52)

The UFC is back in New York's Madison Square Garden this weekend -- and just like in 2016, it's bringing along three title fights.

In the UFC 217 main event, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returns from a four-year hiatus to challenge middleweight champ Michael Bisping.

In the co-main event, budding superstar Cody Garbrandt seeks his first bantamweight title defense against a former teammate and champion in TJ Dillashaw. (Full preview here)

Plus, strawweight titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk attempts to tie Ronda Rousey's female record of six consecutive title defenses, against two-time title challenger Rose Namajunas. (Full preview here)

Here's everything you need to know about UFC 217.

Michael Bisping (30-7) vs. Georges St-Pierre (25-2), Middleweight Championship

Odds: St-Pierre (-115), Bisping (-105)

Eighteen months ago, Michael Bisping's legacy was much, much different than it is going into this weekend.

As recently as last year, Bisping was the steady, consistent middleweight who had somehow never managed a title shot in more than 10 years in the UFC. When he fought Anderson Silva in a nontitle fight, it was viewed almost as if it were his championship fight.

Hey, at least he got to fight Silva, a man he'd chased for years.

Of course, in June of last year, that all changed. Bisping upset Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title -- and he's held the division hostage since. Taking fights against a nearly retired Dan Henderson and now a semiretired welterweight in Georges St-Pierre has denied the rest of the division from advancing.

It's something Bisping has received a lot of criticism for ... and he could not care less.

"Everybody wants to be revered and respected for what you achieve, of course you do," Bisping said. "It's human nature to want nice things to be written about you ... but I do this for my family. I do this for my children. It sounds cliché, but it really is.

"I grew up in England, in a humble background. I left school at 16; there weren't many options on the table. It took me a long time to figure out what I would do for money. I said, 'I'll try this fighting thing out.' Here I am fighting in Madison Square Garden, about to get a big chunk of cash.

"I couldn't give a f--- what anyone has to say."

It's a topic on the minds of many UFC fans in 2017, and Bisping is arguably the best example. This organization has always placed so much value on its titles, but in Bisping's case, legitimizing that title has become less of a priority than finding the "money fight."

That's why St-Pierre, 36, is able to claim an immediate title shot, in a division he's never fought in, coming off a four-year layoff. Matchmaking a UFC champion isn't as simple as looking at win-loss records anymore. It's a balance of rankings and pay-per-view interest.

You can't blame Bisping for wanting the money fight. And you can't blame St-Pierre for taking the opportunity, one he says would be "the greatest accomplishment of my life. Nothing will come first over this."

It's a great story, but it's not a legitimate middleweight title fight. Whether it's an outlier or the UFC's new business model, we'll see.

Key stats

  • Bisping: Sixteen wins by knockout, four wins by submission

  • Bisping: Landed 1,533 significant strikes, according to FightMetric, the most in UFC history

  • Bisping: Five-fight winning streak dating to April 2015

  • St-Pierre: Eight wins by knockout, five wins by submission

  • St-Pierre: Twelve-fight winning streak dating to August 2007 (fourth longest in UFC history)

  • St-Pierre: 73 percent significant strike defense, according to FightMetric (No. 2 all time)

  • St-Pierre: 73.7 percent takedown accuracy, according to FightMetric (No. 2 all time)

Dana White's take

This is a fight both guys wanted. I didn't think it was the right fight to make at one point, but I guess it was meant to be. This fight was meant to be. And it's absolutely a legacy fight for both guys. It's a big fight for Bisping and a massive fight for St-Pierre. Bisping has fought everybody we've ever put in front of him. Anybody we've ever asked him to fight, he's fought.

ESPN's Fight Breakdown

Forget it's Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping for a second and just look at the intangibles in this situation.

You've got a former welterweight moving up to middleweight for the first time. After four years off. For a five-round fight.

That's asking a lot.

St-Pierre has put the weight on, but to what effect? He's essentially forced it on. His natural fight weight isn't 185 pounds. He's not used to carrying that extra weight, especially over a 25-minute fight. And Bisping, throughout his career, has always come into a fight in great shape.

Even if St-Pierre is successful wrestling, which is certainly possible, can he keep it up for more than 25 minutes against a bigger man? Walking into Madison Square Garden after four years off and wrestling a full-size middleweight -- that's a recipe for fatigue. But St-Pierre is such a mentally prepared fighter, perhaps he can manage it.

If it feels like a lot of this breakdown is focused on endurance, that's because it is. These are the two all-time win leaders in the UFC. Their respective skill sets are elite, but they are both in the twilight of their careers. Neither moves as well as he used to. And frankly, both have relied on fights going the distance.

It's very likely this sees the later rounds, and that's why endurance is so important.

Stylistically, pressure would seem to be in Bisping's best interest. St-Pierre was always the best at feints, timing, dictating range. If Bisping, as the bigger man, can reduce the space he has to work with by moving him backward, that's to his benefit. And if St-Pierre spends time on the fence, all the better for Bisping.

For St-Pierre, that wrestling needs to show up. But pay attention to how much energy he's exerting to make that happen.

Prediction: Bisping by decision