Well, it was fun while it lasted…
In a surprise that literally none of us could have possibly seen coming, it appears that newly-crowned middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre won’t be hanging around the sport for long…or even long enough to defend his title. During a recent interview with TSN, the former welterweight champion-turned-middleweight champion laid out the grim realities of his fighting future following his victory over Michael Bisping at UFC 217 last month.
A master of question-dodging if there ever was one, St-Pierre initially stated that he was “unsure” whether or not he would return to the Octagon at 185 pounds or 170, before ultimately admitting that he “didn’t think so.”
“We’ll talk about it, but I’m not sure if I compete I will go back at 185,” St-Pierre said. “I don’t think so.”
His reasoning? Colitis, of all things, which Dana White revealed that “Rush” had been struggling with in his most recent training camp earlier this week.
One thing’s for sure: Dana White is going to be PISSED.
The UFC President — who has had a tumultuous relationship with St-Pierre ever since he vacated his welterweight title back in 2013 — has publicly spatted with the Ontario native on several occasions in both the lead-up and aftermath of UFC 217, and told reporters just last week that he’d be “super pissed” if St-Pierre didn’t defend the middleweight belt.
“He was jumping all over the map,” said White. “170, 185, this and that. I said I’ll tell you what: you wanna come in and take this shot against Bisping, I’m cool with that. But you gotta defend the title. You can’t drop the title after the fight and go somewhere else.”
“My thing is, to be the man you gotta beat the man,” he continued. “And if a guy just goes away … listen, if a guy is on a run and undefeated and wants to retire that’s one thing, the guy retires the belt. But it’s another thing to say I’m going to drop this thing and jump to 170 now. I don’t like it.”
Here’s Dana White talking about GSP situation. Said they are scheduled to talk soon. pic.twitter.com/iUFrpSrnjm
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 28, 2017
An Uncertain Future For the Middleweight Division
One can only imagine the gasket that White is going to blow after hearing this news (my guess is that the phrase “f*cking sport killer” gets used at least a half dozen times). For a minute there, it looked like St-Pierre would be defending his title against Australian slugger Robert Whittaker, but those rumors were quickly shot down just days later. Now, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the UFC will do to sort out the middleweight title picture.
For what it’s worth, there’s at least one person who’s happy about St-Pierre’s potential departure: former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who put the legend on blast during an appearance on yesterday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
“He’s too small. Guys like me will feast on Georges. He won’t last here. He had his opportunity. He got his belt. Good for you. Just move along. Move along and let us handle our business here. I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to fight something that makes sense, and right now nothing makes sense. Obviously, Whittaker is the real champ and we’ll move along. And I’m ready to fight him,” he said.
So the question becomes: Where does the UFC (and more specifically, the middleweight division) go from here? Does it book Rockhold vs. Whittaker, a supremely watchable fight that will likely struggle to draw in casual viewers? Or does it book the interim champ against one of the other surging middleweight contenders (Kelvin Gastelum, who just trucked Bisping at Fight Night 122, for instance) and face the same issue? With so few stars to headline its ever-growing list of cards, the loss of St-Pierre is one that will surely hit the UFC where it hurts the most: it’s wallet.