Prior to Georges St-Pierre’s return to the UFC, there had been a debate about whether or not the former welterweight could find luck in a division outside of 170-pounds.
In the end, St-Pierre came back at middleweight, winning the title in a historic win at UFC 217. But despite the win over the then-champion Michael Bisping, things weren’t as simple as all that to pack on the mass required for St-Pierre to fight at 185-pounds.
According to St-Pierre’s coach John Danaher, for instance, St-Pierre’s body was on the verge of shutdown after weeks of force feeding to keep the mass on.
“The victory by Welterweight Georges St-Pierre at middleweight to gain a new world title was a bold experiment with a truly great result, but was not without its problems,” Danaher posted on his Instagram. “The fundamental problem was always going to be size. Mr St-Pierre always walked into the octagon around 189 pounds on fight night throughout his career. This made him a very averaged sized Welterweight. In order to move up to middle weight, Mr St-Pierre took on a nutritional program designed to facilitate weight gain and hold weight during the rigors of a full fight camp. The result was a disaster.
“Two weeks into camp he developed severe stomach pains and vomiting. Initially it was suspected that he had an illness, but all tests came back negative. The situation deteriorated to the point that for two weeks of a six week camp there was no training at all. At a critical point we gave him a two day window to either get back in the gym or call off the fight. The first grappling workout he had he vomited heavily prior to workout and then went to work. The next day he had the worst standing sparring session I have ever seen him have. Finally the stomach issue issue resolved itself to a degree where he could train satisfactorily and the workouts improved dramatically- though the vomiting continued all the way up to the day of the fight. He was eating so much more than usual in an attempt to keep weight on and stay close to 200 pounds.
“When he went through the final weight cut the big question was, would he return to his bigger size? The answer was a resounding no. On fight night he weighed in at 190.5 – almost identical to his usual fight weight as a Welterweight. The great effort to increase size just didn’t work out and Mr St-Pierre went in to win the title as a mid sized Welterweight. It seems his body just finds a comfort zone around 190 pounds for fighting after a weight cut and no amount of work to change that has any effect. It’s one thing to gain weight, it’s another to do so through a fight camp culminating in a weight cut and then regain the weight. It seems his body has an optimal weight for athletic performance which cannot be drastically changed.”
The apparent difficulty in maintaining the extra weight for St-Pierre raises questions. As of now, the language from both himself and the UFC is that GSP will defend his new title against interim champ Robert Whittaker. However, rumours and questions continue to be asked about whether St-Pierre would rather vacate the title and move back down to 170-pounds instead.