St-Pierre becomes the UFC’s fourth two-division champion
After a four-year hiatus from mixed martial arts, few knew what to expect from Georges St-Pierre in his UFC return.
With a huge opportunity before him, St-Pierre seized the moment and defeated middleweight champion Michael Bisping with a third-round rear-naked choke submission Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
By capturing the middleweight title, St-Pierre became only the fourth fighter to win a UFC championship in two different weight classes, joining the elite company of B.J. Penn, Randy Couture and Conor McGregor.
After the fight, UFC president Dana White said that he expects St-Pierre to defend the title against interim champion Robert Whittaker.
Three titles change hands on historic night
In addition to St-Pierre earning the middleweight strap, fellow title challengers T.J. Dillashaw and Rose Namajunas were also successful in their championship bouts.
Dillashaw, a former teammate of bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, defeated his rival by second-round knockout after facing some major adversity and potentially being saved by the bell at the end of the first round.
The win launches Dillashaw’s second reign as bantamweight champion. He hopes to begin this run with the pursuit of history as he aims to end the record title defence streak of flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. A win over Johnson would make Dillashaw only the second fighter to hold a championship belt in two weight classes at the same time.
Dillashaw was quick to shoot down a potential immediate rematch against Garbrandt, noting that he wasn’t given an immediate rematch following a close fight with Dominick Cruz, where he lost the belt during his first title run.
The other title that switched hands featured Namajunas stunning the MMA world with a first- round victory over champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk who submitted to strikes.
Jędrzejczyk appeared to be an unstoppable champion after several defences that were lopsided in her favour.
Namajunas becomes the division’s third champion. It was her second career title fight, having lost to Carla Esparza in the inaugural flyweight title fight.
Attendance and Bonuses
UFC 217 had so much action that it warranted five performance of the night bonuses, which were handed out to St-Pierre, Dillashaw, Namajunas and a bonus that was split by Ovince Saint Preux and Ricardo Ramos, who both scored devastating knockouts.
UFC 217 drew 18,201 attendees for a gate of $6,105,306, which ranks third all-time for a sporting event at Madison Square Garden.
Whittaker hopes to headline UFC 221
Interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was on hand at UFC 217 to watch the fight between St-Pierre and Bisping.
Whittaker told TSN that he hoped to headline UFC 221 on Feb. 10 in his native Perth, Australia in a fight that would unify the middleweight titles or where he would potentially defend his interim title should St-Pierre not be healthy enough to face him.
Whittaker captured the interim title at UFC 213 with a win over Yoel Romero.
Oezdemir confirms he will get next shot at Cormier
Another fighter on hand at UFC 217 was Swiss light heavyweight contender Volkan Oezdemir.
Oezdemir confirmed to TSN that he will be getting the next title shot at light heavyweight against champion Daniel Cormier.
While a date has not yet been confirmed, Oezdemir confirmed to TSN that UFC 220 in Boston was a potential landing spot.
Cormier lost the light heavyweight title to Jon Jones at UFC 214, but was re-awarded the championship after Jones tested positive for a banned substance, later revealed to be the steroid turinabol.Jones has not yet been levied a penalty for his test failure and has a hearing with the California State Athletic Commission this month in Sacramento. Jones could be suspended for up to four years.