It has been three years since Georges St-Pierre last fought for the UFC. He defeated Michael Bisping in 2017 and then retired a short time after. But is now the time for him to make a return to the Octagon and fight Khabib Nurmagomedov?
That’s the scenario that everyone is looking at if Khabib defeats Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 main event on Oct. 24 on Fight Island.
For the past couple of years, Khabib has frequently mentioned he was nearing retirement, but GSP is the lone fight he has always wanted before walking away. It’s not Tony Ferguson that is on his bucket list, but St-Pierre.
In a recent interview with ESPN, St-Pierre admitted that the cage door is cracked open, particularly if the opponent were Khabib. But it may take a magical moment in time for it to come to fruition.
“The thing is, I’m 39. Three years ago, when I retired, we tried to make the fight (with Khabib) happen. I was all in. I was trying to make the fight happen and the UFC didn’t want to do it. And now three years has passed by, I don’t know if the UFC is gonna change their mind. Even if the UFC want to make the fight, the stars need to be aligned,” St-Pierre admitted.
Though St-Pierre still wants to fight Khabib, he’s grown accustomed to life outside the cage. He’s never been a big fan of the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds professional fighting. The pressure that the fight game brings to bear is a key reason that St-Pierre took an extended break from fighting before he returned to take the UFC middleweight championship from Bisping in 2017.
And time stands still for no man. Including the 39-year-old former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion.
“Time has passed by. I haven’t cut weight in a long time. I think Khabib wants to make that fight at 155. I never fought I 155. I can surely do 155 because I am not a big welterweight, but the problem is I have never been there, so maybe my performance could be compromised,” said St-Pierre.
“One of the principles of the art of war is to know the terrain. He knows the terrain. He fought at 155 his whole career. I do not. We need to find a place we could both not knowing the terrain.”
UFC president Dana White has said that he has some “fun stuff” in mind for Khabib if he defeats Gaethje at UFC 254, but has also said that it is not St-Pierre that he is talking about.
He has also, however, said that he will do whatever Khabib wants in order to keep his champion happy. Khabib has steadfastly wanted St-Pierre, so maybe it could happen. Perhaps the stars could align.
St-Pierre is doubtful, though Khabib is the challenge that he would want in order to be lured back to the Octagon.
“I believe Khabib right now, he’s the best fighter in the UFC. He’s the best guy right now. He’s undefeated; nobody have beat him. He has this aura of invincibility. What is the most scariest thing for a fighter, but also the most exciting, is to fight someone who seems unbeatable. If I ever considered to come back, that would be the fight I would be interested in because of that reason,” St-Pierre explained.
“I have a mixed feeling about it. Three years ago, after my fight with Michael Bisping, I was all in. We try to make it happen. Now things has changed. The stars need to be aligned. Three years ago, I was even willing to go down to 155. I was back. I was active. Now it’s tough,” he admitted.
“There is always a way to work things out, but the stars need to be aligned for me in order to make that (fight) work. Three years ago, I was very flexible, now I’m not really. I’m good where I am. I’m a big fan of Khabib.
“The chances (of me fighting Khabib) are very low. I highly, highly doubt it. It’s not because of Khabib; I believe it’s because of the UFC. We tried three years ago. Three years ago, we were very flexible. We tried everything and it didn’t work three years ago. So I don’t see why it would work now.
“I run away with the 170. I run away with the 185. They surely don’t want me to come back and beat their undefeated champion and run away again. So I think for business purpose, it’s a big risk to take. I don’t think they’re willing to do it.”
Georges St-Pierre talks Khabib, potential UFC return, more
(Video courtesy of ESPN MMA)