Georges St-Pierre Pulled His Second Great Escape Last Night

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Photo by Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports

Last night, former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre vacated the 185-pound belt he had just won by submitting Michael Bisping just over a month ago at November 4’s UFC 217.

It wasn’t really a shocking move considering St-Pierre had revealed his intentions to no longer fight at the weight class as he recovers from a fight with ulcerative colitis that was reportedly due to the diet required for him to bulk up and take on Bisping in his first-ever – and possibly only – fight at 185 pounds.

St-Pierre looked great in his return from almost four years off after he vacated the 170-pound belt in late 2013, as he submitted Bisping in the third round after dropping him with a power left hook, but if you paid attention to his words even directly after he won his second title, a lengthy foray at middleweight against the best in the world was never really in the cards for the French-Canadian superstar.

So thus ended St-Pierre’s short-lived reign at middleweight, if you even want to call it that. With it over, St-Pierre’s tenures at 170 and 185 are an odd juxtaposition the likes of which we rarely see in even a sport as wild and unpredictable as mixed martial arts. At welterweight, he ruled the division twice, with his second reign spanning nine straight defenses where he dominated the best in the world but failed to score a finish throughout the second half of his career there. At middleweight, he came back with seemingly more power and drive after refreshing his mind and desire to compete and score an epic finish in a bout many picked him to lose, yet there was something still missing from the entire ordeal, something different.

And in a way, the thing that was missing was an overall indication of the current state of the UFC. The absence of true meritocracy in the UFC right now rang true more than ever when Bisping held out to face ‘Rush’ in a fight that was on-again, off-again since the beginning of 2017.

Noah K. Murray for USA TODAY Sports

St-Pierre perhaps saw an opportunity to win a belt at a higher weight class because Bisping was an easy win for him after the two had trained together years ago and St-Pierre got the upper hand, and if he did, he proved that theory right at Madison Square Garden. The fact that he was even able to return to an immediate title shot in a weight class he had never fought in after almost four years off and a somewhat messy exit speaks volumes about how the company is willing to do any and everything to secure a potentially huge pay-per-view payday right now.

‘Rush’ took advantage of that, so fair play to him. He got a huge prize fight, and even though he insisted his contract stipulated he had to defend the title against interim champion Robert Whittaker, he waffled on that match from the second he strapped the middleweight title around his waist and discussed his victory with Joe Rogan.

That’s not to say St-Pierre was ducking the fight. The disease he’s dealing with is a serious condition, and if he was putting his body in danger just to bulk up and fight at middleweight, then he most certainly made the right decision in vacating the title and focusing on his health.

In another way, he also showed mercy to the crowded division in doing so, letting it move on and progress in an era when other champions like Conor McGregor hold up classes with no clear plans to defend in plain sight. Whittaker can now take on Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 221 from Australia and the division can go forward without the uncertainty and chaos Bisping lent it during his controversial 17-month reign. However, he also made it seem obvious that he saw an opportunity to cash in versus a man he knew he could beat, a man who was perhaps a fluke champion, and with no intentions of defending the title won in doing so.

So it’s somewhat insulting to the UFC, and Dana White is likely to be ‘super-pissed’ St-Pierre isn’t defending the middleweight strap. He also can’t be surprised.

Photo: Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports

An all-time great no matter if you are agreeing with his latest move or not, St-Pierre saw a window open to win a huge but questionable fight in an era where those seem to be popping up regularly. It was a huge departure from when he shocked fans by announcing he would be taking some time off to recharge his burnt-out mind and body in the moments following his incredibly controversial split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013.

The UFC’s consummate professional promptly took almost four years off after that; there’s no telling how long he may take to return this time if he ever does. Despite the criticism he may be garnering in many circles today, he got paid and won a UFC title a weight class up. Most fighters will never come close to laying claim to anything resembling that sentence. Ultimately it was a savvy business move in a time when spectacle fights seem to have priority above all others.

But this entire scenario has taught us two things: St-Pierre is a master magician when it comes to the fight game, and he pulled his second great escape on the UFC again last night.

If they can corral him again remains to be seen.

  • OneFootFriendly

    Unfortunately, a little short of 2 seconds after gsp regains some respect from me,
    he opens his mouth and fcks it up again talking about how conny should vacate the belt like he did.

    goddamn canadiens.

    conny wasn’t half of what you and biping did to a stacked 185 for a year and a half.
    He’s had a better excuse for the last year between a baby and Floyd Mayweather then your fat rotten butt axx fighting michael bisping.

    Just zip it gsp.
    Quit while your vaguely ahead with some people, or at least back where you started.
    Dont say anything else.

    • Shock Wave

      Shut up, you casual little bitch.

      If not for GSP, there would be no Conor, no Ronda, Georges laid the foundation.

      GSP did more for the sport of MMA, and schmucks like Conor and Ronda are shitting on it, instead of appreciating.

      • OneFootFriendly

        I’ll smack you in the face all the way back to your mommas house.
        And then make you watch while she sucks my dck.

        • ekevin420bc .

          Gsp fights were always exciting to watch he fought every top tier fighters in the most stacked division his whole career Tyron woodley is far more boring to watch way worse and conny has not fought the same type competion and is not defending titles as of yet gsp would hold records that would be incredibly hard to beat if it wasnt for fluje matt sera and rhonda was a one trick pony when really good fighters destroyed her GSP is the GOAT by almost everyones standards runner up mighty mouse if he beats tj it would be close why is it gsp fights had best ppv numbers if he was so boring

          • Draven

            GSP’s fights with Shields, Diaz, Alves and Koscheck were 5 rounds of boring. Woodley’s KO of Lawler and first fight with Thompson combined were more exciting. It’s not Tyron’s fault that he exposed Maia for being one sided with no striking skills who relied only on takedowns and then didn’t know what to do when Woodley stuffed all of his takedowns.

          • ekevin420bc .

            Gsp smashes koschecks orbital for him too never be the same diaz gets beat up too alves was a roided beast and he grappled him same with sheilds was a huge roided welter weight who had notable wins at middle weight that was a tough fight wonder boy woodley was a good fight 1st one then safe tyron bored us in 2nd one too woried to take chances and damian mia what a joke he was in that fight that was one of the worst fights ever aired they said least amount of strikes ever i think i cant stand tyron always whining woodley that lawler fight was a fluke i thought too and carlos fluke i mean carlos injured himself he sure thinks hes entitled too and for what he wants too fight nate diaz for what cement his legacy lol

          • Draven

            Even with one eye he still couldn’t finish Koscheck 🙄 Regardless GSP’s fights with those guys I mentioned still sucked ass and were snoozers. He certainly played it safe by winning solely on points and didn’t try to put them away enough.

            Fluke? Haha. Knocking a guy out is anything but a fluke. You can say Condit got injured but Woodley was dominating and controlling the fight before the injury occurred. He was winning the fight … Fighting Diaz or not, Woodley was still willing to defend his title whereas GSP has no balls to fight the top middleweights, only came back to fight the easiest guy at 185 then chicken out against Whittaker.

            I don’t get your hate for Woodley. Its clouded your judgement. He fights, defends his title and wins.

          • ekevin420bc .

            I dont know many people who do like woodley his fights are boring is what most would agree with
            I dont know maybe after lawler who was my favorite welter weight champ really exciting to watch woodley just seems like he doesnt do it for me . I was thinking in that condit fight he would gas and get owned as fight went on always wanted to see that rematch same with lawler those should be exciting woodley figgts but TW will find a way to bore us lol maybe all the flack hes got for being boring might change his safe fight approach
            Its him on the mic that is really bothersome to listen too is the other problem with him is why im not a huge fan

          • Draven

            I find gsp’s fights a lot more boring. all he did was the lay and pray approach on his opponents during his 5 year run as champion. his win over Bisping was his first finish in 8 years.

            Can’t really blame Woodley for being patient against Thompson & Maia’s styles. Nobody could figure them out and Tyron certainly didn’t wanna be a careless victim. Anybody else would’ve done the same thing as him if they were to win and hold onto the championship. All this hatred for him I honestly don’t get and has only got more people to look down on his skills.

        • Shock Wave

          You couldn’t find your own ass with both hands and roadmap, little boy.

          Save the keyboard warrior talk for your teenage monkey friends.

          You think a tactical fighting genius like GSP is boring, and Conor is just so amazing?

          You are much less educated than I thought, but you are just a kid, so there’s that…