Longtime UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre finally returned to the Octagon in November of last year, following a nearly four-year hiatus.
St-Pierre’s return was a successful one, stopping Michael Bisping via rear-naked choke late in the third round at UFC 217. The victory put the UFC middleweight championship around his waist, making him only the fourth fighter in the promotion’s history to hold titles in two different weight classes.
Following the victory over Bisping, however, St-Pierre revealed that he had been diagnosed with a condition known as colitis, which had caused him severe stomach pain leading up to the fight. With his prospect for recovery largely unknown, St-Pierre vacated the UFC middleweight championship and once again stepped away from the limelight.
The UFC moved swiftly, elevating interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker to undisputed status. Whittaker was the man that St-Pierre was supposed to fight next, the man he was contractually obligated to fight next, even though UFC president Dana White now says that he knew all along that St-Pierre would never step in the cage with Whittaker.
“I knew what he was doing. That’s why I put [a mandatory title defense] into his contract. We both knew what was going on,” White said about St-Pierre’s future when speaking to ESPN in late December.
“I don’t know, man. I don’t think the guy wants to fight. I think he jumped in, grabbed some cash, and went back to Canada.”
Ironically, Whittaker is now sidelined because of an alleged mistreatment of a staph infection that put his health in dire straits. In his absence, Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero will battle for an interim middleweight belt at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.
St-Pierre’s longtime Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, John Danaher, contradicted White’s claim, telling Joe Rogan recently that the Canadian’s future return to the Octagon depends upon his bout with colitis.
“The truth is, no one knows (if or when St-Pierre might return) 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.”
St-Pierre may be facing a legitimate medical challenge, but White doesn’t sound satisfied that his issue is truly of a medical nature. The UFC boss hasn’t come out and said that there is no medical issue, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to St-Pierre’s motives.
“I think his return was purely financial,” White told the Associated Press at UFC 220 in Boston. “But he did it. He came back and beat Michael Bisping.”
Only time will tell if St-Pierre is one-and-done or if he truly does want to make another return to the Octagon.