Rust? What rust?
After a nearly four-year hiatus from competitive mixed martial arts, former welterweight titlist Georges St-Pierre returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship with a third-round submission win over Michael Bisping in their middleweight championship bout in the main event of UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in New York City Saturday night.
St-Pierre floored Bisping with a left-handed punch to the jaw, and then, after a right-handed strike, he followed with 14 left-handed elbow strikes to the face. Bisping stayed in a defensive posture, but absorbed another dozen strikes before rolling to his left and giving up his back.
After taking Bisping’s back, St-Pierre locked in a rear-naked choke and held the submission until the defending champion passed out, which forced the referee’s stoppage.
In the first round of the bout, St-Pierre earned a takedown against Bisping and outpointed the champion, 12-11, in total strikes and significant blows. All of St-Pierre’s strikes were considered significant, according to FightMetric.
St-Pierre held ground control for 20 seconds in the first round.
Despite getting another takedown and holding 26 seconds of ground control in the second round, St-Pierre was outpointed, 21-14, in total strikes.
After fighting for and securing a takedown in the third round, St-Pierre took plenty of damage while in Bisping’s guard, but despite blood pouring into his eyes from open gashes on the forehead and nose, he fought through for the fourth submission victory of his UFC career.
With the win over Bisping, St-Pierre joined an exclusive club of MMA fighters to win UFC championships in multiple divisions.
Along with St-Pierre, former welterweight titleholder, only three other fighters have captured championships in multiple divisions throughout their UFC careers.
Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture was the first to accomplish the feat, first winning the UFC heavyweight championship in 1997, and later, the light-heavyweight title in 2003. BJ Penn followed when he took the UFC welterweight title from Matt Hughes in 2004, and then, defeated Joe Stevenson in 2008 to win the lightweight crown.
At Madison Square Garden last November, Conor McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold belts in two divisions, as he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight championship.
Eleven months to the day before winning his second title, McGregor won the UFC featherweight championship with a knockout of Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds in the main event of UFC 194 in Las Vegas.