Dana White's announcement of Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship was shocking at first, but it fits the company's new strategy.
The UFC needs Georges St-Pierre's star power to help their PPV numbers but after four years away from the Octagon, no one knows what to expect from GSP the fighter.
St-Pierre hasn't fought since defeating Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November of 2013. That decision was highly debated and many felt that GSP had taken a step backward at a competitor at that point. Add more than three years of Octagon rust, a move to middleweight, the natural progression of MMA and you have enough to doubt to assume GSP would be the underdog in his return fight.
Instead, GSP has opened up as a favorite over middleweight champion Michael Bisping. Bovada has GSP listed at -130 for the impending fight and the champion Bisping at EVEN.
Nick Kalikas of MMAOddsbreaker.com opened up with St-Pierre at -170 and Bisping at +140. Kalikas spoke with ESPN's Brett Okamoto about his reasoning for naming GSP a favorite over Bisping.
"There are a lot of questions surrounding both fighters, especially with St-Pierre being out since 2013 and moving up to middleweight for the first time," Kalikas said to ESPN. "I personally think St-Pierre was a declining fighter before relinquishing the welterweight title, based on his last few performances.
"Bisping is coming off minor knee surgery and three of his last four fights have been wars. Stylistically, this matchup should favor St-Pierre, despite Bisping have solid takedown defense and a natural size advantage.
"Bettors are extremely excited for St-Pierre's return and Bisping is clearly a villain at this stage of his career, with critics accusing him of avoiding top contenders in favor of money fights. The opening line takes all of these factors into account."
This goes to show how undervalued Bisping is a champion and aside from his shocking knockout of Luke Rockhold, Bisping hasn't shown much to justify him being favored over a legend like GSP.