This November, a legend returns to the octagon. UFC 217, hosted at Madison Square Garden, will premiere the return of Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, one of the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters of all time. However, many fans are unsure if St. Pierre will live up to the hype.
Before he announced his retirement at UFC 167 on November 16, 2013, St. Pierre dominated the UFC. St. Pierre was the poster boy of the company, and was called the greatest welterweight in the history of the UFC.
“Georges St. Pierre has beaten the baddest of the bad,” says Wyatt McGann, former member of the Morningside Wrestling team, “Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, all the top guys, [St. Pierre] has beaten them all.”
With an impressive record of 25-2, St. Pierre has had two title reigns with 9 consecutive title defenses. Cameron Sherlock, a sophomore at Morningside College “remembers always watching St. Pierre win.”
However, many fans are unsure if the return to the UFC is going to be successful for St. Pierre. “You are talking about a man coming back from a 3-year absence and jumping up a weight class, how is that going to play out?” questioned Sherlock.
Originally fighting at 170 lbs. known as the welterweight division, St. Pierre will climb up to the next weight class. The middleweight division sits 15 pounds heavier at 185 lbs. In MMA, this weight difference is very significant. “When I wrestled, weight classes 8 to 10 pounds heavier were very difficult, you have larger and stronger guys even with the slightest jump up.” Explained McGann.
St. Pierre will be facing middleweight champion, Michael “The Count” Bisping. Bisping is a well rounded, longtime UFC fighter, originally fighting in the light-heavyweight division (205 lbs.). He has stayed as an active member on the roster, fighting his way up the rankings. With a five fight win streak, Bisping became the middleweight champion last year in 2016.
“Bisping is pretty scary. If George St. Pierre is saying he is the easy fight, I think he’s going to be surprised when he steps into the octagon with him,” says Sherlock. There are numerous obstacles that stand in front of “Rush” St. Pierre.
McGann broke down the three main problems with St. Pierre returning.
“1: George St. Pierre is shorter and smaller than Bisping. St. Pierre will stay relatively close to 185 lbs while Bisping will gain weight after making weigh-ins.
2: St. Pierre has not been in competition for three years. Yes, he has constantly trained, but it is very different than being under the lights of Madison Square Garden.
3: He [St. Pierre] has taken a lot of punishment in his long MMA career, it’s the reason for him leaving in 2013. I don’t know if he is fit to return.”
Jonathan Denne, a Freshman at Morningside College, believes that this is another super fight to draw in fans for money. “The UFC needs the money, and they have lost three of their top pay-per-view draws.” Denne refers to Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, and Brock Lesnar, three superstars no longer fighting in the UFC.
With the company being purchased for 4.4 billion dollars by WME in 2016, the UFC has taken steps to make larger than life fights that do not follow the established rankings. This has been seen with the failed return of Ronda Rousey, receiving a title shot right after first loss, as well as Jon Jones, who returned to face for the title he was stripped of after being suspended.
The return of St. Pierre is questionable, but still highly anticipated. Along with an exciting main event, UFC 217 will include two other title fights, along with a number of ranked fighter matchups. The stage is set to be big for the company’s second appearance at Madison Square Garden.
“This will be no easy task for St. Pierre, but I want to see him do it,” says Denne,”no fight is ever certain on how it will play out, and I am excited to see how this ends.”