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Midnight Mania! Is GSP vacating his middleweight title noble or disrespectful?

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UFC 217: Bisping v St-Pierre Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

George St. Pierre vacated his middleweight championship belt today, after just 31 days of being champion. That means Bobby “Knuckles” Whittaker vs. Luke Skyler Rockhold is for the full middleweight title. Many applauded St. Pierre’s respect for the division, including contender Derek Brunson.

But wait- what was this all about then? What are we to make of his brief title reign? Some on the internet are arguing that if GSP wasn’t going to defend the belt, he shouldn’t have come back at all. Dana White said he would be “super pissed” if this happened. George St. Pierre was contractually obligated to defend his middleweight belt, after all.

I’m going to put my cards on the table and say those are trashfire opinions. I fail to see any downside here. Firstly, St. Pierre vacated because of health concerns. He has colitis, an issue that apparently had him throwing up on a daily basis prior to his bout with Bisping. Secondly, healthy or not, it would never have been a wise career move for St. Pierre to fight Robert Whittaker. Yoel Romero and Jacare couldn’t hold Bobby Knuckles down, and if St. Pierre was getting hit by Michael Bisping, Robert Whittaker, a decade younger, would light him up on the feet. Third, has everyone forgotten the way Bisping held his belt hostage for a year and a half without bothering to fight a single legitimate contender? If anything, GSP has done us a huge favor. Bisping is gone, and two of the very best fighters at middleweight are going to fight for the belt at UFC 221. That’s a state of play we could well wish all the divisions had (looking at you, Conor McGregor).

And, if you are really concerned with GSP not fulfilling some contractual obligation to the UFC, you can take that nonsense elsewhere. St. Pierre just made the company millions of dollars at UFC 217. Moreover, the UFC is a predatory organization that structures its archaic, one-sided contracts specifically to take advantage of fighters, milking the entertainment value of blunt force trauma to their brains while starving them with as small a slice of the profits as possible. The UFC routinely cut fighters before their contracts are up. The belts they have are their own promotional instruments, not championship titles issued by an independent body. The belts are, as Nate Diaz famously said, fairy tales.

A fairy tale was exactly what St. Pierre gave us that night in Madison Square Garden. An all-time great, he showed us he saved his best for last. It was one of the most memorable nights of mixed martial arts in 2017, no matter what happened afterwards or how shady the setup was. Now, St. Pierre can once again ride off into the sunset. It wouldn’t at all surprise or sadden me if he never fights again. St. Pierre has done all a fighter should do, he’s played by the rules his entire career. One circus fight later, he exits like the gentleman he always has been.


Robert Whittaker is slightly favored to light Luke Rockhold up in Perth, Australia.

Robert Whittaker vs Luke Rockhold is official for the MW title at UFC 221, as GSP has vacated the title

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