Despite our collective skepticism, the headlines have turned out to be true—Georges St-Pierre has finally signed the new multi-fight deal with the UFC that we’ve been hearing about for months, and if you caught the fifth episode of UFC 209 Embedded, you probably noticed that Dana White and the UFC brass are anxious to get their man back into the spotlight.
But rather than attempting to reclaim the welterweight crown he abandoned in November 2013, St-Pierre has chosen to swim the sport’s deepest middleweight waters and will challenge Michael Bisping for the 185-pound title at some point this year—possibly during July’s International Fight week. As a result, an aging frame, new division, and St-Pierre’s long-term intentions are now just some of the questions surrounding the biggest comeback attempt that the sport has ever seen.
Other than Bisping, former 185-pound champion Anderson Silva, former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler, and even Nick Diaz were also in the running to welcome St-Pierre back to the Octagon. And along with Johny Hendricks—who recently made his own middleweight debut, top welterweights Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson had also been suggested.
After dropping a heartbreaking, split-decision loss to St-Pierre in November 2013, Hendricks is hoping to settle the score on the UFC’s middleweight stage. In fact, following his recent win over Hector Lombard, Hendricks was more than happy to outline his plans for St-Pierre.
“I would just say sorry for the Canadians,” said Hendricks. “I’m going to have to beat his face in, definitely if he comes to 185. Because that’s a fight I’ve been really looking for. And now that I’ve got a win under my belt at 185, he’s a newcomer at 185.”
It’s been more than three years since St-Pierre last graced the Octagon with his presence, and there’s no guarantee that the 35-year old will be anything close to the unbeatable champion he once was when he makes his first UFC appearance since defeating Hendricks at UFC 167.
But contrary to what some assume, St-Pierre hasn’t been laying on the couch for the past three-plus years. He’s continued to train with some of the best coaches on the planet, and he won’t need a life-altering training camp to prepare for his long-awaited return.
On the other hand, there’s a painfully significant difference between the type of Octagon rust someone in their 20’s accumulates during more than three years away from the sport, and what a fighter in their 30’s experiences under the same set of circumstances. Understandably, some feel that even a fighter of St-Pierre’s caliber would’ve been wise to take a tune-up bout against a lesser opponent before tangling with one of the UFC’s current kings.
Conveniently, we seem to have forgotten that “Rush” wasn’t exactly the UFC’s most entertaining fighter during the last four years of his welterweight reign after developing an overly-cautious approach that led to decisions in each of his last seven bouts. And when he returns, Octagon junkies are hoping to see a lot more of the ultra-athletic welterweight who first rose through the 170-pound ranks, and much less of the fighter who finished just one of his last nine opponents after reclaiming his belt with a knockout-victory over Matt Serra in April 2008.
Although St-Pierre doesn’t sound all that interested in attaining more title-based success, his bout with Bisping makes you wonder if the former welterweight great will attempt to establish himself as a long-standing middleweight champion, or if he’s actually willing to be the versatile pay-per-view draw capable of competing against the UFC’s best middleweights, welterweights, and even lightweights.
For Bisping, the bout with St-Pierre offers yet another opportunity to add to an increasingly-impressive resume with a win over a former champion who’s now past his prime before Father Time’s icy embrace sidelines the Englishman for good. But this fight has come at the expense of top contender Yoel Romero—who definitely deserves a title shot, and a St-Pierre victory would probably cost the Cuban due to the simple fact that fight fans would rather see the Canadian face-off against fellow middleweights such as Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.
But until St-Pierre actually steps into the Octagon and we see exactly what version of ”Rush” we’re going to get, speculation will have to satisfy our curiosity.
Conor McGregor Charged with Assault for Dublin Incident
Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor has been charged with assault for punching a man in a bar in Dublin, Ireland back in April, that carries a maximum prison term of six months if convicted, a fine of $1,646, or both, according to the Independent.
McGregor’s spokesperson Karen Kessler confirmed that McGregor was formally served with a summons and is due in a Dublin court on October 11th, in a conversation with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
McGregor expressed remorse for the incident back in August, during an interview with ESPN.
“I was in the wrong,” McGregor said, at the time. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. … I tried to make amends, and I made amends back then. But it doesn’t matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am. That’s not the reason why I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario.”
“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am,” McGregor continued. “And that’s what I will do.”
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UFC’s Stipe Miocic Likely Out for Year
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic is considered to be “highly unlikely” to compete again for the remainder of 2019 after the fighter suffered an eye injury during his fight with Daniel Cormier back in August, Miocic’s agent said, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Miocic (19-3) knocked out Cormier to reclaim the heavyweight title during the fourth round of their rematch at UFC 241, and there had been interest in a 3rd fight between Cormier and Miocic, potentially taking place at UFC 245 on December 14th in Las Vegas, however Miocic says that he is still recovering from a procedure that was done on his retina.
“I’ll be ready to fight when I can see out of both eyes again,” Miocic said in a statement to ESPN. “I can’t wait to defend my belt.”
According to Miocic’s agent, Jim Walter, the eye injury occurred when Cormier accidentally poked Miocic in the eye during the fight at UFC 241.
Miocic had complained of eye pokes during both of his fights against Cormier.
“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” said Walter, of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment. “Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”
Cormier, 40, recently stated his desire to put off retirement to fight Miocic a third time.
“I’m gonna fight this guy again,” Cormier said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week. “My intention is to fight him in the right way. … It has to be against Stipe, no one else matters.”
Dana White: BJ Penn Won’t Fight in UFC Again
UFC president Dana White says that BJ Penn won’t be fighting in the UFC again after a pair of videos surfaced online showing Penn fighting in the streets while in Hawaii.
Penn (16-14-2), 40, was expected to fight Nik Lentz before the end of the year, but White says that plans to make that fight happen are now off following the videos going viral.
“He won’t fight again, that’s it,” White said, according to Brett Okamoto. “That’s a wrap. It’s not even that this was the last straw. I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway, but with the relationship that he and I have — he gets me on the phone, begging me for another fight. It’s hard to turn him down.
“After what I saw in that video, BJ needs to, you know, he needs to focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting.”
Penn, who will not face any charges for the incidents, and his representatives have since said he was trying to diffuse the situation and ultimately acted in self-defense.
“I don’t want to sit here and pick BJ Penn apart,” White said. “I think we all know what BJ Penn needs to do and hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do. What I saw in that video was sad and I love the kid. I hope he gets his life together. If BJ Penn needs me, all he has to do is pick up the phone and ask.”
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