Georges St-Pierre returned to the Octagon at UFC 217 in November, capturing the UFC middleweight title from Michael Bisping. But now, two months later, what’s next?
Weeks after he won the middleweight belt, St-Pierre vacated it, citing a medical issue called ulcerative colitis. It’s a condition that apparently affected St-Pierre’s preparation for his fight with Bisping; so much so that he sat out two weeks of his six-week fight camp.
St-Pierre’s longtime Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, John Danaher, recently told Joe Rogan that about two weeks into their fight camp, St-Pierre was feeling so ill from a stomach issue that he was unable to train for two weeks. It got to the point one Friday that Danaher told St-Pierre’s head coach, Firas Zahabi, “If Georges isn’t training by Monday, we’ve got to pull the plug.”
It was a move that nobody wanted to make. It would have been disastrous for one of the UFC’s biggest events of the year; one that featured a fight more than a year in the making.
Fortunately, St-Pierre “dug deep” and finished the fight camp, made it to the Octagon, and took the title. But after being diagnosed with colitis, St-Pierre quickly vacated the belt, saying he didn’t want to hold up the division.
A short time later, UFC president Dana White stated that he knew St-Pierre was never going to defend the belt even though he had it written into the former welterweight champion’s new contract that he was required to if he were to defeat Bisping. White indicated that he’d welcome St-Pierre back to the Octagon, but not as a middleweight. He insisted that St-Pierre would have to return to welterweight, where he could potentially challenge Tyron Woodley for the belt.
Woodley has been chasing a fight with St-Pierre for quite some time, but would GSP accept?
“Absolutely,” said Danaher, but right now, no one really knows if St-Pierre will be able to return. Though he has said publicly that medication has helped his condition, it’s not yet know if St-Pierre will fully recover to the point that he’d risk another trip to the cage.
“The truth is, no one knows because it comes down to medical problems. Georges has got a problem in his stomach,” Danaher said.
“I’m not going to claim to be a medical expert, but it’s one of the most frustrating things Georges has had to deal with because there’s certain parts of the human body that are just out of your control, and the stomach is one of them.
“There’s things that happen in your stomach, you can’t control it. Things likes stress seem to make it worse, and the truth is that no one really knows at this point. So, wherever there’s doubt, my instinct is to think, well, do you really want to come back Georges? You’ve done all this.”
St-Pierre is certainly one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history. He had already claimed his spot as the most dominant welterweight champion the promotion has ever known, ruling over the division for several years, eventually being considered amongst the greatest fighters of all time.
Returning with the win over Bisping, St-Pierre also became one of only four fighters to claim UFC championships in two different weight classes, joining the likes of Randy Couture, BJ Penn, and Conor McGregor.
As Danaher said, especially considering St-Pierre’s bout with colitis, what is left for him to accomplish?