GEORGES ST-PIERRE returned to the UFC after a four year absence and claimed the UFC middleweight title by submitting Michael Bisping in the third round of a historic night at Madison Square Garden in New York. With the win he practically confirmed his status as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
GSP adds to his name to the list of four, along with Randy Couture, BJ Penn and Conor McGregor, as a two-weight UFC champion, after a long reign as welterweight king, and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat since his last fight in 2013.
He turned up in phenomenal shape and any fears were put to rest, as he dropped Bisping, unloaded his arsenal of ground strikes, before taking the back of the Manchester man and sinking in a rear-naked choke which Bisping passed out to, refusing to simply tap out.
Since the announcement of his return, there have been plenty of doubts as to whether St-Pierre still had what it takes, especially moving up a weight class and after four years could he do what he did to the welterweight division for years.
There were also some who were convinced the fight would never happen, but Madison Square Garden was at fever pitch as the two glared at each other from across the Octagon. Bisping has been slowly chipping away at GSP throughout the buildup, but GSP quickly settled back once the cage door was shut.
St-Pierre worked behind an excellent jab, which he has honed with the help of revered boxing trainer Freddie Roach and pressed forward. Bisping moved as well as ever, but St-Pierre’s footwork was exceptional as he darted in and out of range, snapping in leg kicks and stunning Bisping with a searching jab.
We were waiting to see whether GSP could land the takedown and he didn’t disappoint, as he got it towards the end of the round. Bisping, who is a nightmare to keep down, was quickly up, however the warning signs were there. St-Pierre finished the round with a superman jab, before missing a wheel kick by inches to announce he was back.
The second was a closer round, as Bisping stepped it up a gear, however St-Pierre was still landing at will with legs and hands. The champion was marking up, but a right hand reminded GSP of the threat he possessed, so the Canadian shot for another takedown.
He got on top this time and began to try and land strikes, but was thwarted by some excellent defensive striking off the bottom by Bisping, who was quickly up once more. St-Pierre was feeling the effects and appeared to be slowing down and “The Count” finished the round strongly.
There was a momentary pause before the third, as Bisping’s cup appeared to be broken, but they were back into the furious action very quickly, as St-Pierre got another takedown. Bisping however was ready and sliced GSP open with some nasty elbows, which saw blood spill all over both men.
St-Pierre enjoyed some success, but was pushed off by the bigger man in Bisping, as the two traded right hands. St-Pierre was clearly affected by the blood, constantly dabbing at the cut above his left eye and Bisping, whose conditioning is one of his biggest tools looked to be the fresher man and gaining a foothold.
One left hand later and all those thoughts were out of the window, as he was sent careening down to the canvas and St-Pierre was on him in a flash. Bisping did everything he could, but he was in real trouble and defending his championship with everything he had, as St-Pierre swarmed on top of him, unleashing his full arsenal on the stricken champion.
St-Pierre took a slight step back and Bisping sensed a chance to get up, but inadvertently played straight into GSP’s hands. St-Pierre quickly took his back and sunk in an asphyxiating rear-naked choke which saw Bisping in serious trouble.
In true Bisping fashion he refused to tap and went out on his shield, as Madison Square Garden erupted to the announcement that Georges St-Pierre was once again the UFC champion, this time at middleweight.
St-Pierre told them after: “I don’t have a word in my mouth right now. It’s a dream come true, guys. Thank you for the support, it’s my dream come true. He hurt me very hard. Two times I tried to hide it, but man, I wouldn’t like to do that fight again.”
As to what he does next, despite being contracted to a unification contest with Interim champion Robert Whittaker, even he isn’t sure: “This is not really my real weight, you know? I did it for the challenge.”
The MMA world is certainly glad to see him back.