Though the Georges St-Pierre vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov ship had seemed to sail, UFC president Dana White cracked the door open just slightly recently.
After Nurmagomedov defeated Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 main event to unify his lightweight championship with Poirier’s interim belt, White was asked once again if he though a fight between St-Pierre and Nurmagomedov in the future was possible. Following a long pause, White said simply, “Sure.”
Nurmagomedov has also long been open to a fight with St-Pierre, his only stipulation that it should be at 155 pounds.
“Georges St-Pierre is a great guy, a great champion, a great athlete,” Nurmagomedov said at the UFC 242 post-fight press conference in Abu Dhabi. “He’s a very good example for young kids. I know he retired, if he wants to come back, if he feels hungry, if he feels he can improve his legacy with a fight with me and he can make 155, I’m waiting for him.
“Maybe he likes the new belt. If he likes, I can give him just only for one photo. If he wants to fight, welcome.”
So what is stopping a Georges St-Pierre vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC fight?
A fight with Nurmagomedov is the only one that St-Pierre has recently talked about as being tempting enough to potentially draw him out of retirement. The thing that might sink any possibility of the fight happening, however, is St-Pierre’s insistence that he has no interest in fighting, winning the belt, and then guaranteeing to defend it.
Not wanting to build a new reign as champion is a reason that St-Pierre sees as to why the UFC isn’t quick to pit him against Nurmagomedov. St-Pierre returned to fight Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship in November of 2017. He wont the fight, but a few weeks later relinquished the belt and walked away, despite having promised White that he would defend the belt if he won it.
The UFC has a lot invested in its champions. Nurmagomedov in particular is a valuable asset as they make a renewed push into the Middle East, and St-Pierre gets it.
My agent explained it to me like, maybe (Nurmagomedov) represents a significant investment for UFC. He reaches a different type of clientele, from the Middle East, the Muslim world idolizing him. He’s an icon,” St-Pierre said in a recent interview published by DAZN.
“Imagine that they invest a lot of money to promote a big fight between Khabib and I and I win the fight. I’m out. I’m not interested in signing a fight with Khabib and guarantee them that I want to go back and fight another contender.”
That is likely to be the most significant factor in the UFC not bringing St-Pierre back to fight Nurmagomedov. Perhaps the idea of the fight grows to a magnitude that officials deem it worthy of the risk, but that factor alone is likely to keep the fight from happening.
Georges St-Pierre discusses fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov
(Video courtesy of DAZN USA | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)