For the first time in more than three years, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre's next title defense is unlikely to come in his home country.
The Canadian headlined Saturday's UFC 158 event at Montreal's Bell Centre and easily handled challenger Nick Diaz in the pay-per-view headliner.
However, in his next outing, which will come against co-main-event winner and surging contender Johny Hendricks (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC), expect St-Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC) to return to Las Vegas for the first time since UFC 100 in 2009.
"I was just telling Lorenzo (Fertitta) we've got to bring him back to Vegas," UFC President White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) following UFC 158. "He hasn't been out of Canada in a while."
After defeating Thiago Alves at UFC 100, St-Pierre headed to Newark, N.J., for a victory over Dan Hardy at UFC 111. However, since that March 2010 fight, he's fought exclusively north of the border. Montreal has hosted three of his fights, and Toronto got one.
So why fix what's not broken with the PPV juggernaut? White believes Montreal can draw big crowds – like the 20,145 people who produced a reported gate of $3.7 million at UFC 158 – even without St-Pierre. Specifically, he points to a UFC 113 event headlined by Lyoto Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua that did similar figures.
"We had two Brazilians headline up here and it was fantastic," White said. "Montreal's a destination. It's a fun city to come to. I don't think anybody comes here and doesn't have a good time, even in the winter. It's cold as hell, but it's still a great place. Great restaurants, great hotels."