It seems as though the return of the welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre is now closer than ever, but who exactly will he face off against when he does enter the octagon once again?
Georges St-Pierre has all of a sudden become a very real and exciting presence in the sport of mixed martial arts once more. With his self-imposed hiatus now reportedly coming to an end, speculation about the Canadian’s next opponent will only grow more prominent within the MMA community as we wait for official confirmation from the UFC about his comeback fight.
St-Pierre, who last competed in 2013, has certainly done enough for the sport in his time as a champion to warrant an immediate title fight but with several big-name fights out there and the number-1 contenders in each respective division to keep happy, do not be surprised to see him tied to a big-name fight if a deal to get him a shot at UFC gold falls through.
I’m going to take a look at some opponents who would serve as viable candidates for his comeback fight and then rate them based on the likelihood that they will be one who gets the call.
There, of course, will be no shortage of willing dance partners for the undoubtedly strong PPV-draw that is Georges St-Pierre but there are only a select few who would capture the imagination of the public enough to warrant an offer.
Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre
This is perhaps one of the two match-ups in this list that makes the most sense. With the middleweight title on the line, St-Pierre would return and receive his well-deserved title shot. From a marketing perspective, I don’t see how Bisping would disappoint as far as doing his own fair share of selling the fight is concerned.
Stylistically, it would, of course, be a very interesting fight, but also one that could set up some absolutely riveting title defences for GSP (should he come away with the win). The middleweight division is a shark tank right now and if St-Pierre were to find himself with the 185lb belt around his waist, he would join a select group of two-weight world champions and perhaps even set himself up for a potential super fight in the future.
Bisping has expressed his interest in the fight and St-Pierre reportedly wants it too. It would be a contest between a pair of proven draws and one that could have truly exciting implications for the middleweight division in the long run.
Winner Of Woodley/Thompson 2 vs Georges St Pierre
This one is perhaps the second most likely out of all possibilities. On March 4 at UFC 209, the UFC’s welterweight title will be contested once again by the champion Tyron Woodley and the man he fought to a draw with at UFC 205, Stephen Thompson.
With St-Pierre’s long and decorated history in the 170lb division, for him to make his return to fight for the title he never lost would have exactly the sort of romanticised storyline that you can already hear Joe Rogan riffing about in one of his patented promos.
It’s a fight that sells itself, and for St-Pierre, it would be one that could once again set him up for a middleweight super fight in the future (or perhaps even a showdown with whoever holds the lightweight belt).
As a contest, either of these men would serve as an entertaining comeback fight for St-Pierre and whether it’s Woodley’s power and sheer athleticism or Wonderboy’s technical brilliance, both guys would give GSP possibly the hardest fight he could have at welterweight right now.
Georges St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz 2
This one could go either way. In their first meeting, Diaz found himself completely outclassed by the superior St-Pierre and though each man is in need of a comeback fight, the only way that this would go any differently is if GSP comes back a lesser version of himself and Nick’s core skill set improves during his time off.
It’s pretty possible that Diaz has spent his time off refining his game and if you know anything about himself and his brother, you’ll know that they live and breathe fighting. He has made it clear that he will not make his return to the octagon for anything less than a big-name, big-money fight and what makes this an interesting proposition is that GSP fits both of those criteria.
It’s hard to know how good St-Pierre will look upon his return, but with 3+ years spent on the sidelines, a match-up with Diaz would be a fair way to assess both men after their respective layoffs, and, of course, the build-up would be nothing short of extraordinary as these two guys most certainly do not like each other.
Conor McGregor vs Georges St-Pierre
This is a strange one. We all know about the lightweight champ Conor McGregor’s eye for the spectacular. We also know that he’s currently pushing for a potentially earth-shattering match-up with boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather and is yet to defend his belt.
Conor is less concerned with his duty as a champion, however, and is more fixated on his own legacy. He wants to make history every time he steps into the octagon, and a fight with St-Pierre would certainly live up to the standards he has set so far.
It’s difficult to know exactly what his plans are, but right now, with Floyd firmly in his sights, the pressure that would be on him to defend his belt against the #1 contender (whoever that ends up being after UFC 209) will more than likely boil over and detract from his stature as an MMA fighter if he does indeed fight Mayweather in his next outing and then reject the 155lb title defence.
Apparently, the UFC were looking to set this one up in the wake of UFC 196 for UFC 200 if McGregor defeated Nate Diaz, but as we know, things didn’t play out that way and that frankly insane match-up was put back on the shelf.
With so much going on with McGregor right now, it’s hard to see this fight being made immediately, but it’s a very real possibility in the future if the stars align in the way that the UFC are undoubtedly wishing them to.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena