36-Year-Old UFC Middleweight 26-2-0
November 9, 2017 Georges St-Pierre News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
St-Pierre said Thursday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that his contract with the UFC states he will fight Robert Whittaker next.
St-Pierre went into detail about the challenges of moving up to middleweight in the interview, but it seems like he's at least open to doing it again. The new middleweight champion would not say definitively that he will fight Robert Whittaker in 2018, and noted it's possible that UFC President Dana White could change his mind. In St-Pierre's post-fight comments following Saturday's win over Michael Bisping, he seemed to indicate he was most interested in returning to the welterweight division, where he spent the majority of his career prior to a four-year hiatus. It's also worth noting that GSP mentioned a neck injury that sent him to the hospital, which also resulted in a 45-day medical suspension from the state of New York (per MMAFighting.com). There are many moving parts to this situation, but St-Pierre currently intends to take a vacation before returning to finalize his next move.
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Fantasy AnalysisGSP joins Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, and of course Conor McGregor as the only fighters to win UFC Championships in multiple weight classes. GSP's first fight in nearly four years wasn't easy. St-Pierre was visibly exhausted as the fight progressed and he was a bloody mess. Yet as has almost always been the case throughout his career, he found a way to win. GSP got off to a quick start. His striking was on point and he landed all three of his takedown attempts with ease. The biggest issue for St-Pierre was that his gas tank appeared to be pushing towards empty awfully quickly. Somehow GSP landed a left hook that dropped Bisping and after attempting to finish him with strikes, he rolled him over and hooked in the RNC that ended the fight. In true Bisping fashion, he refused to tap and went to sleep. It has been reported that GSP's contract, had he won Saturday, requires him to defend his belt against current UFC Interim Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker, so that appears to be where we are heading. Look for that fight sometime in the spring of 2018. St-Pierre also received a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre and Bisping are scheduled to square off for the UFC Middleweight Championship on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden, marking a return to the sport for GSP after more than a three-year layoff. St-Pierre opened as a betting favorite for that matchup when the fight was first speculated roughly a year ago, and remains the favorite as of Monday. Although he is former welterweight that will be much smaller than Bisping in the Octagon, oddsmakers seem to think his elite wrestling will give him an edge. Should he pull of the victory, UFC brass wanted to cover their bases by not allowing GSP to move weight classes again following the prospective win. Robert Whittaker (knee) recently defeated Yoel Romero to earn the Interim UFC Middleweight Championiship, and would have gotten the next title shot if it weren't for his injury. Whenever he is ready, the table is set for Whittaker to get his championship opportunity, whether it be against Bisping or GSP.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was just days earlier at the UFC 214 press conference that president Dana White shut down this prospective matchup, instead saying that St-Pierre would face the winner of Saturday's welterweight title matchup between Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia. After the event, however, Woodley took heavy criticism from White for what was perceived by many as a lackluster performance. Not only were they booed out of the Octagon, but the numbers back it up, as the matchup set a record for least number of punches thrown in a five-round fight. As a result, it looks like St-Pierre's originally-targeted matchup against middleweight champion Michael Bisping is back on. Though Bisping will be the bigger fighter in the cage, he's been more susceptible to the takedown over his career against Woodley, who stuffed an incredible 21 takedown attempts Saturday. During St-Pierre's title runs, he thrived on his takedown ability to win rounds and cause additional damage, and he has a much better shot of executing this game plan against Bisping and his 64 percent career takedown defense. For that reason, sportsbooks currently have St-Pierre as the early betting favorite despite the long layoff.
Fantasy AnalysisWhite did acknowledge that he plans to meet with St-Pierre's team later Wednesday afternoon, at which point more details would be sorted out. It's been nearly six months since St-Pierre announced his plans to return to the UFC, but the original plan was to face Michael Bisping for the middleweight title. Injuries ended up delaying this matchup, and now White says that "the Bisping ship has sailed." Physically, a welterweight fight makes a lot more sense for GSP, as it's a weight class he's previously competed in for the majority of his career, and he wouldn't be at a such a size disadvantage. That said, an instant title opportunity after a three-year layoff is a lot to ask of anyone, let alone a man who turned 36 in May.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre was clear that his next fight, revealed last March as a championship bout against Michael Bisping (knee), wouldn't be happening until late 2017. GSP also mentioned that he had surgery to correct this issue, and that there is a minimum time he needs to wait before he can begin training. Currently, he's targeting November as the earliest possible date for his return. This actually works out well for Bisping, who is dealing with a knee injury and has roughly the same timetable. In the meantime, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker will take the Octagon at UFC 213 to compete for the UFC's Interim Middleweight Championship.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre's comeback was made official recently, and although there has been much speculation about his return opponent (and weight class), GSP will ultimately get a title shot right out of the gates. He'll need to wait until Bisping is recovered from knee surgery to put his 12-fight winning streak on the line, so expect the fight to land at some point in late-2017. St-Pierre's biggest strength has always been his wrestling, as he's recorded more takedowns than his opponent (or tied) in all but one of his professional fights. The biggest question mark here will be ring rust, and although some fighters will claim it doesn't exist, GSP hasn't fought since Nov. 2013, so it could very well be a factor.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre and the UFC ended their relationship on rocky terms, as GSP vacated his title and abruptly walked away from the sport in 2013 following a controversial, split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks. One of the reasons St-Pierre cited was dissatisfaction with the promotion's policing of anti-doping policies, but that concern should now be in the past due to the implementation of USADA and their stricter testing methods. St-Pierre is still just 35 years old, so the Tristar product could reasonably contend for a championship in his return trip. Who he will fight remains speculative at this point, however. He fought primarily at welterweight during his historic run, and although he'd be best-suited for welterweight or lightweight, talks of a middleweight championship fight between he and Michael Bisping have been ongoing for quite some time. At the very least, he'll inject the promotion's new management with some much-needed starpower.
Fantasy AnalysisThis appears to be a good old fashioned public relations battle between the UFC and St-Pierre. Although, the 35-year-old hasn't actually fought since 2013, and even if he is still technically under contract with UFC, there's no guarantee that he'll be awarded a fight during the remainder of the contract.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre hasn't fought since 2013 in the UFC and was able to terminate his contract after the promotion failed to schedule him a fight prior to a set deadline. He grew frustrated after the news WME-IMG ownership that took over in July pulled the newly-proposed deal off the table. He will now be able to sign with other promotions.
Fantasy AnalysisIn most cases, a fighter needs to notify USADA of their intent to compete in writing, as well as make themselves available for testing, at least four months prior to their first bout. Famously, Brock Lesnar received an exemption to this standard, and UFC fans all know how that turned out. St-Pierre has always been very outspoken against the use of any PEDs, and he believes that in order to maintain his reputation as a clean fighter, he needs to play by the same rules as everyone else. As a result, the former welterweight champion plans to begin the process Aug. 10. That timeline would not put him in place to compete at a November event at the Madison Square Garden in New York, but early-2017 would still be an option if his management team is able to negotiate a deal with UFC brass.
Fantasy AnalysisSt-Pierre has been training for this moment since late-2015, but finally made the announcement official Monday afternoon. The former welterweight champion has yet to get booked for an official fight, as his management team is currently in the process of negotiating the details of his return with UFC brass. St-Pierre has been out of action for nearly three years, but due to an early "retirement," the Tristar Gym product shouldn't be too far past his prime, as he only turned 35 last May. One potential option for a return fight could be new middleweight champion Michael Bisping, but it's uncertain if St-Pierre will be immediately ready to compete at the highest level upon his return, or if the UFC will look to schedule a tune-up fight first in an effort to shake off the rust. GSP vs. Bisping would surely be a huge hit with UFC fans.
Fantasy AnalysisSt.-Pierre has entertained the idea of a return to the octagon for some time now, but took a step closer when his longtime boxing coach Freddie Roach disclosed his plans to begin a fight camp. The former welterweight champion took what he referred to as an extended hiatus at the end of 2013, and a torn ACL the next spring further derailed his comeback. St.-Pierre continues to train casually at Tristar Gym in Montreal, and at 34 years old, he would be far from the oldest fighter in the UFC. If he's still in it, both physically and mentally, one of the UFC's all-time greats could look to put his 12-fight win streak on the line in mid-to-late 2016.