Disappointing news hit the UFC early today when UFC President Dana White confirmed that newly-crowned middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre was going to be sidelined ‘for a minute’ due to colitis.
The all-time great former welterweight boss made a triumphant return to the Octagon after nearly four years in semi-retirement at last month’s (Nov. 4, 2017) UFC 217 from Madison Square Garden, dropping and submitting former champ Michael Bisping to become the unlikely champion in his first bout at 185 pounds.
The win set him up for a title unification bout with surging 26-year-old interim champion Robert Whittaker, who had locked up the placeholder belt by defeating Yoel Romero at UFC 213 this summer. However, St-Pierre revealed he had suffered a concussion during his fight with ‘The Count,’ and will now deal with a serious digestive system disease.
Not surprisingly, many fans took it as a sign that St-Pierre was trying to get out of defending the 185-pound title, something many felt he wouldn’t do even before winning it. But true to his always-classy style, Whittaker reacted to the news by encouraging St-Pierre to heal up on his Instagram account:
Known as one of the nicest and classiest fighters outside the cage while quickly becoming one of the steamrolling forces of nature inside it, Whittaker doesn’t appear to be in a rush to get his rumored title bout with St-Pierre.
Part of that may be the fact that he significantly injured his knee while fighting Romero and could still be healing up, but the uncertainty surrounding St-Pierre’s return to middleweight could lead to what most thought would happen actually happening – that St-Pierre never defends his title like he promised he would prior to his UFC return.
If he doesn’t, the UFC may be better off making Whittaker the interim champion due to the constant state of flux at 185 recently after Bisping shocked the world by knocking out former champ Luke Rockhold in June 2016, only to defend it against the retiring Dan Henderson then sit on the sidelines for more than a year waiting for St-Pierre to return.
It could be argued no UFC division save for possibly lightweight is a bigger mess right now, and with 185 being one of the most talented arenas in all of MMA, the UFC will need to sort out the mess heading into 2018 if they want the dismal pay-per-view numbers of 2017 to bounce back in any fashion.
Despite Whittaker’s calm reaction, should the UFC truly let ‘Rush’ hold up a division he may have never intended to defend the title in?