Little by little, Georges St-Pierre‘s return to the Octagon is becoming real.
UFC president Dana White on Wednesday revealed via SportsCenter that St-Pierre’s first fight back in the UFC would be a challenge for the belt. Only, it won’t be in the welterweight division that St-Pierre once dominated.
When St-Pierre sets foot back in the Octagon, it will be opposite UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
St-Pierre stepped away from the sport in November of 2013 after making the ninth consecutive defense of his UFC welterweight championship.
His entire time out of the Octagon, St-Pierre never said never to a return, frequently teasing a comeback.
He had been in the thick of negotiations with former owner Lorenzo Fertitta in 2016, targeting a return opposite Bisping. Negotiations fell apart during the change of UFC ownership, but were rekindled in 2017, culminating with White announcing that St-Pierre had signed a new deal in mid-February.
Bisping is currently recovering from a knee injury, expecting to be ready to fight by early summer. Most speculation had focused on Bisping next facing No. 1 contender Yoel Romero or possibly No. 3 ranked Jacare Souza. He has long said, however, that he would not pass on the option to fight St-Pierre if it were offered.
“If they offer me the No. 1 contender, I’ll take the No. 1 contender,” Bisping said on a recent edition of UFC Unfiltered. “If they offer me GSP, listen, I’d be a fool not to take GSP. Of course, I’d take GSP. If they were to offer that fight, as I said, there’s been no word of that yet. I hope they do.”
White fell short of announcing a date for St-Pierre vs. Bisping, but revealed that there would be a press conference on Friday with both men in attendance, so there are likely more details to come at that point.
“We haven’t set a date yet, but that’s the fight,” said White. “He has to go through USADA. He has to be tested by USADA for the next three months. There’s a lot of things that have to happen for Georges to come back, and then we’ll pick a date.”