The former UFC middleweight contender singled out Georges St-Pierre for his decision to vacate the middleweight strap he won in November

St-Pierre returned to the promotion for an immediate shot at Michael Bisping’s title at UFC 217 in November and left Madison Square Garden as a two-weight world champion.

Sonnen, who will fight for the first time at heavyweight against Quentin “Rampage” Jackson in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, believes the Canadian legend showed incredible character in giving up the title (transcription via BloodyElbow):

“There’s only two options, and we’ve seen guys do it the other way,” Sonnen said while speaking on Beyond the Fight recently. “Here’s one option, and this is what most dirtbags in the business do — and for good reason. They have 12 months to defend a title before you’re going to be stripped. You have 12 months of headlines, 12 months of photo opportunities, 12 months of walking around, building that visual of that title over your shoulder, 12 months of talk, collecting sponsorship dollars, and stopping an entire division in its tracks!”

“Or you have the second option, which is what Georges did, and I don’t remember a guy ever doing it this quickly. He comes out, he goes ‘You know what? I thought twice about it. I thought I was a middleweight.’ For whatever reason — ‘I don’t love the size, I don’t love that it slowed me down a little bit’ — whatever it was he felt in there, he goes ‘I’m not going to do it anymore.’

“Instead of holding you up, instead of collecting my sponsorships, getting my media opportunities, and stopping a division for a calendar year? I’m going to turn it over right now and let the boys go on with it. That was a cool thing to do!”

For Sonnen, those who questioned St-Pierre’s return to the UFC are not looking at the bigger picture:

“So many people have come out and said how wrong this was, and he never should’ve come in the first place. I’m not really sure where that comes in. First off, it was a monumental fight, did monumental business. It was very meaningful. It was an extremely big achievement,” Sonnen said.

“I don’t think he came in an intended to fool anybody, as much as ‘look, it’s a little bit of an experiment for me too. I want to try this. I believe in myself. But at my age, and at this point in my career, I am only committed to achieving this one time. I then hope to go back and do it again.’

“As soon he had that hope gone, or said ‘look, I want to be in a different weight class, or retire’ or whatever Georges wants to do, instead of jamming everything up for an extended period of time, like everybody else would’ve done — collected that money, kept that belt around him, gone on Sports Center, cut the interviews and lived the life — he gave it back.

“That was the right thing to do, and that’s the way that story should be told.”

In the latest UFC rankings, Georges St-Pierre slipped three places to #3 in the middleweight rankings. Robert Whittaker now leads the 185-pound division having been promoted to champion following GSP’s relinquishing of the title.

Check out the rankings below, courtesy of UFC.com:

“Rankings were generated by a voting panel made up of media members. The media members were asked to vote for who they feel are the top fighters in the UFC by weight-class and pound-for-pound. A fighter is only eligible to be voted on if they are in active status in the UFC. A fighter can appear in more than one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champion are considered to be in the top positions of their respective divisions and therefore are not eligible for voting by weight-class. However, the champions can be voted on for the pound-for-pound rankings.”

POUND-FOR-POUND
1 Demetrious Johnson
2 Georges St-Pierre
3 Conor McGregor
4 Max Holloway
5 Daniel Cormier
6 TJ Dillashaw
7 Stipe Miocic
8 Tyron Woodley
9 Tony Ferguson
10 Cris Cyborg
11 Cody Garbrandt
12 Robert Whittaker
13 Amanda Nunes -1
14 Joanna Jedrzejczyk
15 Dominick Cruz

FLYWEIGHT
Champion: Demetrious Johnson
1 Joseph Benavidez
2 Henry Cejudo
3 Ray Borg
4 Jussier Formiga
5 Sergio Pettis
6 Wilson Reis
7 Brandon Moreno
8 Ben Nguyen
9 John Moraga
10 Dustin Ortiz
11 Tim Elliott
12 Alexandre Pantoja
13 Louis Smolka
14 Deiveson Figueiredo
15 Magomed Bibulatov

BANTAMWEIGHT
Champion: TJ Dillashaw
1 Cody Garbrandt
2 Dominick Cruz
3 Raphael Assuncao
4 Jimmie Rivera
5 Marlon Moraes +2
6 John Lineker -1
7 Bryan Caraway -1
8 John Dodson +1
9 Aljamain Sterling -1
10 Thomas Almeida
11 Pedro Munhoz
12 Eddie Wineland
13 Brett Johns
14 Rob Font
15 Matthew Lopez

FEATHERWEIGHT
Champion: Max Holloway
1 Jose Aldo
2 Frankie Edgar
3 Ricardo Lamas
4 Brian Ortega +2
5 Cub Swanson -1
6 Chan Sung Jung -1
7 Yair Rodriguez
8 Jeremy Stephens
9 Darren Elkins
10 Renato Moicano
11 Dennis Bermudez
12 Dooho Choi
13 Mirsad Bektic
14 Myles Jury
15 Calvin Kattar *NR

LIGHTWEIGHT
Champion: Conor McGregor
1 Tony Ferguson (Interim Champion)
2 Khabib Nurmagomedov
3 Eddie Alvarez
4 Edson Barboza
5 Justin Gaethje
6 Nate Diaz
7 Dustin Poirier
8 Kevin Lee
9 Michael Chiesa
10 Michael Johnson
11 Al Iaquinta
12 Beneil Dariush
13 Anthony Pettis
14 Francisco Trinaldo
15 James Vick

WELTERWEIGHT
Champion: Tyron Woodley
1 Stephen Thompson
2 Robbie Lawler
3 Colby Covington
4 Rafael Dos Anjos
5 Demian Maia
6 Jorge Masvidal
7 Darren Till
8 Carlos Condit
9 Donald Cerrone
10 Santiago Ponzinibbio
11 Kamaru Usman +1
12 Neil Magny -1
13 Gunnar Nelson
14 Dong Hyun Kim
15 Yancy Medeiros

MIDDLEWEIGHT
Champion: Robert Whittaker
1 Yoel Romero +1
2 Luke Rockhold +1
3 Georges St-Pierre -3
4 Jacare Souza
5 Chris Weidman
6 Kelvin Gastelum
7 Michael Bisping
8 Derek Brunson
9 Anderson Silva
10 David Branch
11 Uriah Hall
12 Vitor Belfort
13 Krzysztof Jotko
14 Lyoto Machida
15 Paulo Costa

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Champion: Daniel Cormier
1 Alexander Gustafsson
2 Volkan Oezdemir
3 Glover Teixeira
4 Jimi Manuwa
5 Ovince Saint Preux
6 Mauricio Rua
7 Misha Cirkunov
8 Corey Anderson
9 Ilir Latifi
10 Patrick Cummins
11 Rogerio Nogueira
12 Gadzhimurad Antigulov
13 Tyson Pedro
14 Jared Cannonier
15 Jan Blachowicz

HEAVYWEIGHT
Champion: Stipe Miocic
1 Francis Ngannou
2 Alistair Overeem
3 Fabricio Werdum
4 Cain Velasquez
5 Mark Hunt
6 Derrick Lewis
7 Alexander Volkov
8 Marcin Tybura
9 Curtis Blaydes
10 Stefan Struve
11 Aleksei Oleinik
12 Andrei Arlovski
13 Junior Albini
14 Travis Browne
15 Tim Johnson

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT
Champion: Rose Namajunas
1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk
2 Jessica Andrade
3 Claudia Gadelha
4 Karolina Kowalkiewicz
5 Tecia Torres
6 Cynthia Calvillo
7 Michelle Waterson
8 Felice Herrig
9 Carla Esparza
10 Alexa Grasso
11 Cortney Casey
12 Paige VanZant
13 Joanne Calderwood
14 Randa Markos
15 Maryna Moroz

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT
Champion: Nicco Montano
1 Sijara Eubanks
2 Lauren Murphy
3 Alexis Davis *NR
4 Roxanne Modafferi -1
5 Barb Honchak -1
6 Montana De La Rosa -1
7 Rachael Ostovich
8 Mara Romero Borella +1
9 Liz Carmouche *NR
10 Jessica Rose Clark -2
11 Shana Dobson -1
12 Gillian Robertson -1
13 Kalindra Faria -1
14 Melinda Fabian -1
15 Bec Rawlings -1

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT
Champion: Amanda Nunes
1 Valentina Shevchenko
2 Holly Holm
3 Julianna Pena
4 Raquel Pennington
5 Germaine de Randamie +4
6 Cat Zingano
7 Ketlen Vieira +1
8 Ronda Rousey -3
8 Sara McMann -1
10 Marion Reneau +2
11 Katlyn Chookagian +2
12 Bethe Correia +2
13 Leslie Smith +2
14 Aspen Ladd *NR
14 Sarah Moras *NR

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