Will St-Pierre abandon his new 185-pound title to pursue other fights, or will the all-time great unify his belt in a matchup against interim champion Robert Whittaker?
UFC president Dana White said Tuesday that he planned to talk to St-Pierre about that very question for the first time later that night. And if “GSP” wants to vacate the championship he just captured with a third-round submission over Michael Bisping at Madison Square Garden, White is not going to be a happy man.
“I don’t want to hear that. That’s not what I want to hear,” White told reporters at a media lunch in Las Vegas. “I want to hear he’s going to defend his 185-pound title. That’s the agreement we made. That’s the deal we made when we made the deal.”
St-Pierre, 36, was noncommittal about his next step in the immediate aftermath of UFC 217. He said his body struggled to maintain the extra weight required to compete at 185 pounds, and that he suffered through “severe cramps” as well as other illnesses in camp due to those issues. St-Pierre said his system appeared to be shutting down on him by the time fight day rolled around, and he only was able to rehydrate back to 191 pounds rather than the 198-pound range he was walking around before weigh-ins.
Regardless, St-Pierre also reiterated a line he repeated often in the lead-up to UFC 217: That it was written in his contract that he had to fight Whittaker next.
And according to White, that’s exactly what the UFC is planning.
“I’m going to be super pissed (if St-Pierre wants to drop the title), and I don’t know where we go from there,” White said. “Go to 170 — who’s better to fight at 170? You’ve got (Tyron) Woodley, you’ve got ‘Wonderboy,’ you’ve got (Yoel) Romero, and then you’ve got Luke Rockhold. F*cking monsters. They’re all monsters. There’s no fight that looks like, ‘Oh, maybe this is the fight for me to take.’ You looked at Bisping like he was a tune-up. You got your tune-up. There’s nothing but f*cking animals at ’85 and ’70.
“Rockhold is massive. He’s massive when he cuts weight. There’s no good options. To sit there and try to handpick people, or where you want to go and everything else, you can’t in this f*cking sport. They’re all nasty. You’re a fighter. Get in there and see who you can f*cking beat. You wanted to f*cking come back. Welcome back, it’s ugly.”
White added that it was he himself who pushed to have the Whittaker clause included in St-Pierre’s latest UFC contract, “because [St-Pierre] was jumping all over the map, ’70 and ’85, this and that.”
“I said, ‘I’ll tell you what: You want to come in and take this shot against Bisping, I’m cool with that, but you’ve got to defend the title,’” White said. “You can’t drop the title after the fight and then go somewhere else. It’s just, my thing is, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. And when the man just goes away — listen, if a guy is on a run and undefeated then wants to retire, that’s one thing. The guy retires the belt, that’s another thing. ‘Well, I’m going to drop this one and jump to 170 now,’ I don’t like it.
“That’s language in the contract. It’s in the contract.”
That being said, White was noncommittal when asked if St-Pierre vs. Whittaker is a fight the promotion would target for Feb. 11 at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, despite the fact that Whittaker is a native Australian.
“I don’t even know if Perth is what I want for him (St-Pierre) yet, so we’re going to talk today and we’re going to figure it out,” White said.
White also shut down any notion of St-Pierre moving down in weight to have a blockbuster fight against UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
White said any rumor of St-Pierre vs. McGregor must have originated from St-Pierre’s camp.
“There’s never been one discussion ever about GSP vs. Conor. Ever. So that’s all internet sh*t that I’m assuming got started on that side,” White said.
“Every fight with Conor is a big money fight, and Tony Ferguson is next in line. How much bigger is GSP vs. Conor than Conor vs. anybody?”