Georges St-Pierre became the UFC middleweight champion earlier this month, and he did it in a way not many saw coming.
The long-time welterweight king scored a second-round rear-naked choke over then champ Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in New York City. Since Bipsing had only been submitted once in his entire 13-year-long MMA career and St-Pierre hadn’t tapped anyone in a fight in almost 10 years, the idea of St-Pierre dethroning the champ with a submission was not a very popular one.
However, grappling standout Garry Tonon went on record with MMA Fighting to say that there was a ‘good chance’ St-Pierre would submit Bisping days before their main event fight at MSG.
Tonon, who helped St-Pierre get ready for his 185-pound title bout, explained on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour why he felt confident that St-Pierre would end the fight with a submission.
“Well, I did believe that that was going to be a high-probability circumstance mostly because I felt his skills to get him to the ground were going to be much better than his opponents’,” Tonon told Ariel Helwani.
“And from what I saw in his (St-Pierre) grappling training, he was doing a good job. Most our camp was built around holding Bisping down, one of Bisping’s greatest attributes is his ability to get up after he’s taken down. So the majority of the camp was, ‘alright, we’re going to take this guy down, but how are we going to keep him down and how are we going to do damage when we take him down’. We didn’t want to take him down and just have him spring back up, then what’s the point of the takedown, right? So that was a big part of our camp and in seeing that a big part of our camp was we take him down, keep him down, do damage, and get this guy to expose his back – and that’s exactly what happened in the fight – I thought that there was a high probability of that happening.”
Now being part of the selected few that have been fortunate to hold UFC world titles in two different weight classes, many are wondering what’s next for St-Pierre. The Canadian fighter has stated that it’s in his contract to unify the middleweight belt with interim champ Robert Whittaker, but he has also expressed uncertainty on whether or not he’ll continue fighting.
Tonon believes there is a possibility that St-Pierre could never set foot in the Octagon again. After all, there is little left for St-Pierre to conquer.
“I think they (UFC) would have to give him a good fight,” Tonon said. “I can see there is a chance that he doesn’t (come back). What does he really have left to prove? I mean, there could’ve been a chance that he didn’t come back to fight Bisping. He’s done so much already for the sport and he can walk away at any time. I’m sure tons of these guys are talking sh*t because they want to get fights, but I know they all have the same feelings, like even Tyron (Woodley) was talking to you (Helwani) as I was sitting the green room and at the end he was like, ‘yeah, you know, the guy did so much for the sport he could walk away whenever he wants’.”
The ‘good fight’ that the UFC could offer St-Pierre to entice him to continue fighting could be a blockbuster match-up with MMA star and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
“Yeah, I’d love to see that,” Tonon said. “I know when he (St-Pierre) did his most recent interview he was saying he would look bad if he said he wanted the fight, but he’s just such a nice guy. I think the right thing to say would be, ‘yeah, I want to fight Conor,’ but he’s like, ‘well, he’s lighter than me and that looks bad,’ so I guess that’s how he looks at it in his mind.”