UFC 217: Georges St-Pierre Must Defend Middleweight Title With Win
The pound-for-pound great will end his nearly four-year hiatus from the Octagon when he steps in to face reigning middleweight champion Michael Bisping in the main event of the UFC's return to New York City. The bout between the brash-talking Brit and the former 170-pound king has undergone a roller-coaster trajectory, as it was unofficially announced earlier this year but then fell apart multiple times before it became official in late July.
The announcement came on the tail end of a last-minute switch-up from the promotion following UFC 214 on July 29, when welterweight champion Tyron Woodley squared off with challenger Demian Maia. In the lead-up to the tilt, UFC President Dana White publicly stated the winner of the bout would be the one to face St-Pierre later in the year. That said, a technical yet low-action showing from Woodley en route to a unanimous decision victory drew the ire of the UFC frontman.
In the press conference immediately following the event, White said Bisping would be St-Pierre's next opponent, and it could very well be a while before the Canadian MMA legend returns to the division he once ruled. Furthermore, the UFC insisting St-Pierre would have to defend the 185-pound strap should he win would also serve to kill any hopes of a potential super fight with Irish superstar Conor McGregor.
During a recent visit to The MMA Hour on MMAFighting.com, St-Pierre laid out the details surrounding his official middleweight debut, addressing the various scenarios surrounding his highly anticipated return to action.
"That wasn't my initial plan, but I understand the UFC's point of view," St-Pierre said. "They want to protect their titles. They don't want to delay the defense of their titles, because they don't want to make people wait.
"I have to defend my title. It's written in my contract. I have to defend my title if I win."
While St-Pierre was down to face Woodley for the welterweight strap, the Montreal native knows Woodley's reluctance against Maia inspired the UFC to travel a different route, and the future Hall of Famer is satisfied in the way things played out for UFC 217.
"[Bisping] is the fight I wanted," St-Pierre said. "That's the fight Michael wanted. And I think that's the fight people wanted to see.
"It is unfortunate for certain people. But sometimes the misfortune of people makes the good luck of others. I hate to say that, but sometimes that's the case in our sport."
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