Michael Bisping knows he will next defend his middleweight title against Georges St-Pierre, but he's still awaiting official word on when the fight will take place.
St-Pierre just recently inked a new four-fight deal to return to the UFC, but he also has to re-enter the USADA drug testing program as well as prepare for his first bout back in nearly four years.
UFC president Dana White did confirm last week that he expected the fight between Bisping and St-Pierre to take place in Las Vegas.
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Now, according to Bisping, White told him the date when he wants the fight to take place as well.
"It's looking like July 8," Bisping revealed on his podcast "Believe You Me" this week. "Dana's pushing for July 8. He told me July 8. July 8 would be a good date for me as well. I could fight two months from now. July 8, that works."
While the UFC hasn't made any official announcement yet, July 8 is rumored to be the close of International Fight Week 2017, which is traditionally one of the biggest fight cards of the year.
Based on the current number system for pay-per-views, that would make Bisping vs. St-Pierre the headline fight at UFC 213.
Bisping says that timeline works perfectly for him after having knee surgery earlier this year. It would allow him to get back into shape after just recently finishing his rehabilitation and then get into a fight camp to prepare for the bout with St-Pierre.
"In fact, July 8 is great for me because that's give or take four months away. What I'm going to do, my preparation for that, I'm going to give myself two camps," Bisping explained. "One camp where since my last fight my knee was giving me a lot of trouble so I haven't actually done much training since October. I've lifted weights and things like that but I really haven't done jiu-jitsu or anything like that. So these next two months, I'll brush up on my jiu-jitsu and try to improve that game. I'll brush up on my wrestling and improve that side. I will lift a lot of weights and focus on strength and conditioning and explosive power. I will also focus on my diet extremely.
"The plan is in two months time but still only training at a very mild pace. You know maybe once a day, maybe twice on the days where I'm lifting weights, but still, the tempo very low, controlled, eating a good diet, looking after my body. Then six weeks out from the fight, I plan on being 200 pounds. Then I'll start my proper fight training and my weight will already be low enough to where I already cut weight. Therefore I can eat throughout my training camp and stay strong."
It makes sense that the UFC would target International Fight week for the showdown between Bisping and St-Pierre given the fact that the middleweight title bout is expected to be one of the biggest tickets in 2017. The UFC has struggled through the first half of the year without the star power of either Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey to sell pay-per-views, but the return of St-Pierre should help remedy those numbers with his next fight.
Given the timeline between his signing and the prospects of the fight taking place in Las Vegas, it seems all the more likely that St-Pierre will return against Bisping on July 8. Still, the UFC has made no official announcement regarding the title bout or the date for International Fight Week 2017.