GSP v Whittaker fight on ... with one condition
GEORGES St-Pierre has declared he will give Aussie Robert Whittaker a dream fight to unify the UFC middleweight title - but it may have to wait a while.
After speculation that St-Pierre could return to welterweight to regain his old 170-pound belt or even chase a superfight versus Conor McGregor, the Canadian icon (26-2) revealed he was set on next fighting Whittaker (20-4).
However, he came out of his win over Michael Bisping at UFC 217 with a neck injury, meaning he will not commit to any timeline for a return to the Octagon. Beyond that, St-Pierre said he was actually contracted to fight Whittaker.
"We'll see what I want to do and where my head is," GSP, 36, said on a media conference call.
"I have no intention of holding on to the belt and freezing the division. That's not what I want to do.
"Robert Whittaker is in my contract. If I want to fight again, it has to be against Robert Whittaker at 185 [pounds]. That's in my contract. I cannot, for example, go fight [welterweight champ] Tyron Woodley or go fight another guy.
"There's going to be news about it in the next few weeks but I don't plan to hold the title and not defend it."
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St-Pierre said he had suffered serious pain from the neck problem.
"It looked very insignificant when it happened," St-Pierre said. "It wasn't the strength of the hit. It was more the precision of it. It's not his fault. We're not allowed to hit there, but it was just in the heat of the fight, and it's normal.
"My neck was so inflamed, when I was on the floor, I had a hard time posturing up because it was hurting very bad. It felt like I couldn't contract my head to posture up. After the fight when I cooled down, it was terrible. It was like my neck couldn't move. Now it's still sore, but it got a lot better. I got treatment on it, so I'll be back 100 per cent."
Whittaker has indicated he will wait for GSP, out of respect for his legend status, though he was hopeful of taking the fight at UFC 221 in Perth during February. St-Pierre may well need longer to recover and prepare, while the UFC may also be intent on his next fight being in Canada, where he delivered enormous crowds during his prime.
St-Pierre said he would leave the final call on making the fight up to UFC president Dana White - who said immediately after UFC 217 that GSP would fight Whittaker next.
"Dana White is going to talk with my agent, they're going to figure it out and we'll see after I come back from vacation," St-Pierre said.
"I understand it's normal [the interest and speculation] but I don't even know for myself what's going to be the next move."
Whittaker, 26, has himself been sidelined through injury since winning the interim middleweight title over Yoel Romero at UFC 213 in July.
In another interview, on The MMA Hour, GSP was more non-commital but again said he was contracted to face Whittaker and admired the Aussie. He did, though, leave the door open for White to come up with a bigger fight.
"It's written in my contract [to fight Whittaker]. If it gets me excited, I don't know," GSP said.
"He's an excellent fighter and he was in Montreal before - he's an incredible martial artist. He's a great champion. I have only positive things to say about Robert Whittaker.
"I don't know. Look, I just finished off a very hard fight. I'm still bruised up a little bit. My neck, I still feel it. I need some vacation. I'm going to go on vacation, clear up my head and see what's [next].
"I'll take a few weeks and then I'll decide. I have no desire to hold on to the title and freeze the division. That's not what I want to do.
"There's a lot of different things that can change. Mixed martial arts is a sport that changes all the time and like I said, I wanted to come back to make history, to do something that'd never been done before. I know it's in my contract [to fight Whittaker] but you never know. Dana could come back with some proposition or whatever."