UFC 217 is in the books and an old face is the new middleweight champion.
Georges St-Pierre returned after a four-year hiatus to dethrone Michael Bisping and become only the fourth man in UFC history to win two titles in two separate weight classes.
With speculation running wild as to what GSP will do next, the question hot on the lips of Aussie and Kiwi fights fans persists: Will GSP defend the belt against interim-champion Robert Whittaker?
Speaking to ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto, UFC President Dana White made it clear that St-Pierre is back and that the young Aussie is next.
“Yeah he’s back, what’s next is Georges versus Whittaker” White said.
When pressed further on weather St-Pierre may change weight classes to chase lucrative money fights, White was adamant that he would not and that Whittaker would get his opportunity to unify the middleweight title.
“That fight is done, it’s a done deal”
Weather that fight could potentially take place at the recently announced UFC 221 card in Perth, remains to be seen.
“Obviously, you have to see how GSP is feeling you know, I don’t know how the guy is feeling right now. So, there’s a lot things that depend on whether that fight will happen soon.” White said.
Speaking to News.com.au immediately after the event, Whittaker stated that he would sidestep the Perth show if that’s what he has to do in order to fight GSP.
“I’m happy to wait,” Whittaker said. “Fighting a legend like that is worth the time. My wants have to go on the back seat a bit for him. He’s a living legend and in respect I’ll do that. But if he’s going to hang around at middleweight we’ll touch gloves eventually. I’m confident.”
In the lead up to UFC 217, GSP stated that if he wins the title, it is his contract that he must defend the title against Whittaker. In his post-fight speech with Joe Rogan however, he appeared non-committal on remaining in the weight class.
“This is not really my real weight I did it for the challenge. There was a time in my career that I was too busy, the challenger were one after the other and I was too small to go up. I was even too small for welterweight. Now I am still welterweight size but I decide to take a shot because I put on some muscle mass. There is a point that it is too much but now it is the point that it is okay.” St-Pierre stated post fight.
The rather ambiguous answer has left much speculation as to whether GSP will defend his newly won title or relinquish it in the search for ‘money’ fights outside the division. Despite White’s declaration that Whittaker would be next, history has shown that things can change.
If St Pierre does choose to vacate the title in search of bigger paydays, Whittaker could become the undisputed champion by default.
“If Georges steps down, it makes everyone a potential opponent,” Whittaker said.