One way or the other, history was going to be made in the main event of UFC 217 on Saturday. In the end, it was GSP who made it.
Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York played host to UFC 217, where middleweight champion Michael Bisping defended his 185lb title against a returning Georges St-Pierre. GSP was four years removed from the UFC, having not fought since defeating Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in 2013. He was also moving up in weight, going from his traditional welterweight stomping grounds to middleweight to fight for a second title.
It was a fight that could weigh heavy on each of these fighter’s legacy, as a win for St-Pierre would likely solidify him as the best the sport has seen. A win for Bisping could bring some legitimacy to the champs reign by knocking off another legend of the sport while defending his title once again.
What unfolded, few could have anticipated.
GSP would open with some leg kicks, while Bisping would touch the challenger with a grazing blow. They’d then trade punches, with both men pushing on. The Canadian would connect with jab, but what would his timing be like after all that time away? A right hand would connect for GSP just after, followed by a jab, Bisping would answer with a right hand. With a minute to go, St. Pierre then did what he does best, scored a takedown. Bisping, however, was quickly back to his feet. A superman punch (jab!) then rocked Bisping! GSP would briefly attack on the feet with a wheel kick that just grazed the champ, then smartly looked for the takedown, but couldn’t finish before the buzzer to end the round.
GSP added in some side kicks to the mix to open round two. He’d continue to touch Bisping, who threatened to catch a kick and was wary of the takedown. Bisping then caught St. Pierre with a counter as GSP looked for a leg kick. Then, just when you thought Bisping might have an edge, the Canadian scored a takedown. Again, however, Bisping made it back up, and then connected with a right hand. GSP may have taken the round, but he was tiring, and the momentum was on the champion’s side in round three.
Georges St. Pierre, however, would score another takedown to open the third. Bisping would land an elbow from the bottom, and stay active off his back. He cut the Canadian, who would keep the pressure on. Bisping continued with the elbows, however, opening up GSP further. Back on the feet, the champ would connect with a right, and GSP seemed to be having vision issues. GSP came back with a right of his own. A great jab/kick combo by GSP followed.
And then came the game changer. GSP, four years gone from the sport, told everyone who would listen he was better. That he would be looking for a finish. Most expected him to grind out a decision at best, but a picture-perfect left hook dropped Michael Bisping! GSP swarmed, dropping elbow after elbow, but Michael Bisping showed his tenacity and toughness, hanging on, defending. Then came the end, as Georges St. Pierre took the back and locked in a tight rear-naked choke that Bisping was never going to be able to escape.
Bisping held on, but it was all for not, he was going out, and within moments, GSP was back! RUSH was back! Your new UFC middleweight champion, Georges St. Pierre!
Georges St. Pierre def. Michael Bisping by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 3, 4:23