NEW YORK (AP) — Georges St. Pierre returned from a four-year layoff to choke out Michael Bisping to win the middleweight championship in the main event of UFC 217.
The 36-year-old St. Pierre showed no ring rust in the 185-pound bout as he ended his self-imposed sabbatical Saturday night and controlled the majority of the fight. St. Pierre (26-2) had his forehead busted open and bled down his face and onto his chest. But it didn’t phase him.
He slapped on the rear naked choke at 4:32 of the third round and won his 13th straight UFC fight.
St. Pierre was one of the UFC’s biggest stars and pay-per-view draws during his long reign atop the 170-pound division, but the Canadian star walked away in November 2013.
St. Pierre took down Bisping in each of the first two rounds as the Madison Square Garden roared for the fan favorite. GSP made it 3 for 3 for the challengers in UFC 217 title bouts.
Meanwhile, T.J. Dillashaw dropped undefeated Cody Garbrandt with a right and finished him off in the second round to win the 135-pound championship.
Dillashaw (15-3) was rocked in the first round and stumbled to his stool when he took a shot to the face to end the first. Garbrandt, predicted by many as UFC’s next big star, even ducked under Dillashaw’s left leg as he kicked and did a little dance to the delight of the crowd.
But Dillashaw stunned Garbrandt with a high left kick to the head and then a right hook that corkscrewed Garbrandt’s body and effectively ended the bout. UFC President Dana White strapped the belt around Dillashaw’s waist as the new bantamweight champ.
“No Love” Garbrandt (11-1) earned one of the loudest ovations of the night when he was shown on the screen walking into MSG. He walked out having lost his shot at taking the next step as UFC’s hopeful breakout star.
Dillashaw won the bantamweight title in 2014 and had two successful defenses before he lost the belt to Dominick Cruz in 2016.
Rose Namajunas took the 115-pound championship away from undefeated Joanna Jedrejczyk with a dominant performance.
Namajunas connected with a left in the first round and pounced once Jedrejczyk (14-1) hit the canvas on Saturday night. Namajunas pounded away at the fallen champ as the Madison Square Garden crowd went absolutely wild for a fighter that had been soundly booed during her entrance.
Namajunas (17-3) ended Jedrejczyk’s bid at matching Ronda Rousey’s women’s record with six straight title defenses.
Namajunas choked back tears as UFC President Dana White slapped the strawweight championship belt over her shoulder. She was drowned out by the roars as she spoke about what the championship meant to her inside the octagon.
“Just confidence, conditioning, composure, content that I’m the champion,” she said.
Paulo Costa improved to 11-0 with a second-round stoppage over Johny Hendricks in the first bout of a pay-per-view card.
Costa teed off on Hendricks in the second round before the referee stepped in for the TKO win on Saturday night. Hendricks, a former UFC welterweight champion, continues to fall on hard times and lost for the fifth time in six fights. Costa pulled off the biggest victory of his career. He took a celebratory bow to the crowd as Hendricks (18-8) argued with the ref about the decision and trudged out of the cage.
Costa called out Derek Brunson for his next fight. Brunson tweeted that Costa was “100% on the juice. Not impressed at all. Slow and gassy. Get some more fights first. Not interested.”
Steven “Wonderboy” Thompson (14-2-1) put away Jorge Masvidal (32-13) by unanimous decision for a much-needed win in his second fight at Madison Square Garden. Thompson got a needed rebound win in the 170-pound bout after fighting Tyron Woodley to a draw and decision loss in his last two contest.