St-Pierre did not entirely commit to staying at 185 pounds after his third-round submission win over Michael Bisping in the UFC 217 main event on Saturday night. ‘Rush,’ who returned after four years away from the sport, hinted in his post-fight interview that a return to welterweight could happen in the future.
White said St-Pierre vs. Whittaker for the undisputed middleweight belt is the fight to make. He did not give a timeframe for that matchup, as St-Pierre was in the hospital after the Bisping fight and it wasn’t clear when the Canadian would be able to get back in the Octagon.
“It’s going to be Whittaker,” White said at the post-fight conference (transcript via MMAFighting.com). “I don’t even know what’s going on with GSP. He was transported to the hospital, so he’s got to get stitches on his nose. If he doesn’t take Bisping down and keeps this fight standing, he comes out of that fight with almost no damage. Bisping did some serious work from his back and split his nose open and had him bleeding all over his face. [St-Pierre] took some big shots from the top position and if he didn’t do that he probably would’ve come out unscratched. So yeah, he’s got to go to the hospital right now. We’ll see how he is and what the status is with him.”
Whittaker won the interim title with a decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 213 in July. The fight was booked after the initial bout between Bisping and St-Pierre was scrapped due to injuries to both fighters. Bisping was targeted to fight the winner of Whittaker vs. Romero, but Whittaker came out of that fight with a knee injury that has sidelined him until early 2018.
In the five-round middleweight title fight this past weekend, St-Pierre started strong, likely winning the first round with strikes. But he started tiring in the second round – possibly because he put on 15 pounds of muscle leading up to the fight – and the momentum was on Bisping’s side going into round 3. But in the latter half of the third round, St-Pierre landed a flush left hook, followed up with vicious elbows on the ground, and eventually put his opponent to sleep with a rear-naked choke.
It will most certainly go down as one of the best comebacks (career-wise) ever in MMA, and White seems to think so, too.
“No, (I haven’t seen anything like it),” White said. “Even Ali didn’t look the same after a three-year layoff, you know. He was still a great fighter, but he didn’t look the same as he did before the layoff and very few people have come back from long layoffs. Not only come back and win in their own division, but move up to 185 pounds and fight in that division, it’s tough to do.
“It’s great to have GSP back. He came after a four-year layoff and fought a great fight tonight. People think Bisping is easy, but show me one easy fight Bisping has been in where you just go in there and walk over Bisping, you don’t do it. And GSP looked real good tonight.”
UFC 217 took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 4. Also on the card, T.J. Dillashaw defeated bitter rival Cody Garbrandt by second-round TKO for the bantamweight title. Underdog Rose Namajunas stopped strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk with the queen in the first round.