Michael Bisping’s UFC middleweight championship reign came to an end at the hands of returning legend Georges St-Pierre in the main event of an epic card at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
St-Pierre had taken a four-year sabbatical from the sport before stepping up from welterweight to middleweight to become a two-weight titlist with a third-round rear-naked choke that put Bisping to sleep.
GSP looked tremendous in his first round back in the Octagon before being worn down by the Englishman in the second and busted open by a series of Bisping elbows early in the third.
The Canadian returned to his feet, blood pouring down his face, and caught Bisping flush with a left hook. And when the ensuing series of ground strikes failed to defeat the champion, St-Pierre switched cleanly to the rear-naked choke and quickly trapped ‘The Count’, who lost consciousness rather than tap out.
“I studied Michael’s tape, and I knew he had a problem with shots from [his] right,” St-Pierre said of the knockdown that led to the win. “So I faked on left side to attract his attention and I struck him on the right.”
“He hit me very hard,” St-Pierre added. “Two times, I got stunned. Man, I wouldn’t like to do that fight again!”
Bisping was courteous in defeat, a far cry from his trademark pre-fight trash talk, and immediately squashed his own prior suggestion that he may retire after headlining the second MSG spectacular alongside one of the sport’s biggest names.
Round One: GSP’s first five minutes back in the Octagon after four years out would convince you that he hasn’t been gone at all. Snapping a lightning-fast jab at the champion throughout, St-Pierre rattled Bisping with more than one power shot and landed a takedown to boot. The Englishman didn’t engage much for whatever reason, and whatever that reason was, it didn’t reap any immediate dividends. 10-9 GSP
Round Two: Much better from the champ, despite being taken down a second time in the middle of the round. Bisping begins to find that right hand and lands a couple of high kicks as well. St-Pierre smothers Bisping for a while after the takedown but is unable to turn it into anything of note, looking noticeably slower than in the first. 19-19 tie
Round Three: Another GSP takedown comes within the first 45 seconds. He rides Bisping for some time but is cut open by some stiff elbows from off the champion’s back. As the two return to their feet, the extent of the cut becomes clear with the challenger wearing the proverbial crimson mask. But while Bisping keeps the upper hand for a little while, he’s stunned by a sweet left hook from Georges. Michael was able to withstand the ground-and-pound but St-Pierre timed the switch to the rear-naked perfectly and Bisping could only sink until the referee waved it off.