UFC lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier caused a bit of a stir recently when he suggested that his teammate Georges St-Pierre could call out UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor if he comes through UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping in November.
The comments seemed fairly speculative but not completely outlandish considering that the returning St-Pierre had previously expressed his interest in matching ‘The Notorious’ Irishman. The legendary French-Canadian even claimed not so long ago that he could make the lightweight limit of 155lbs if necessary.
It’s a fight that would undoubtedly vex many, many people. The top contenders in both the UFC lightweight and middleweight divisions are a long-suffering bunch who have repeatedly been forced to look on while their respective champions pursued big money fights against lower-ranked fighters or indeed in other combat sports.
This, of course, is unlikely to stop the fight from materializing if McGregor, St-Pierre and the UFC decide they really want it. And, considering how lucrative it would be, they might well do.
But what of the fight itself – as a competition? Would McGregor be jumping into another near-impossible situation? St-Pierre may have been out for four years but he is an all-time great and a career welterweight. If ‘GSP’ beats a big middleweight like Bisping and looks good in doing so, most will probably see a potential fight between he and McGregor as a mismatch.
Retired former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate doesn’t see things this way, however. During an appearance on a recent edition of MMA Tonight Tate said that she would favour McGregor over St-Pierre based on the SBG Ireland fighter’s striking abilities, his speed, his mastery of the psychological elements of the game, his strategical nous and an X-factor that he possesses which she feels people haven’t quite yet identified.
“Conor McGregor, I’ve underestimated the guy a number of times, thinking he wasn’t going to win some of the fights that he won and he did it,” said Tate. “The man is truly in a league of his own. When it comes to his game planning, when it comes to his trash talking, when it comes to getting inside people’s heads, nobody does it better than Conor McGregor. So I absolutely would not count him out in a fight like that(Transcription via MMAFighting.)
“I think the speed favors him. I think he has great striking and I think the fact that GSP’s been out for so long, I think Conor McGregor can put together a strategy to beat pretty much anybody and I think the matchup actually favours Conor.
“I feel almost bad saying that because I’ve been a huge GSP fan for a really long time. He’s perfect when he fights. Maybe not the most exciting fighter you’ve ever watched but he’s almost perfect and that’s so hard to do. If you’ve been an athlete in any sport, to have a perfect game or a perfect match or a perfect bout, it almost never happens. You watch him go out there and he’s pretty much perfect in all of his fights. He never waivers from his strategy and he’s like a robot, like somebody’s controlling a controller somewhere and he’s just doing exactly what he needs to do to get through those fights. But I think with this one, Conor’s just so hard to beat and he’s so hard to get around mentally. I think the speed actually, being the smaller guy, does favour Conor.
“Yes. I know that sounds crazy but dude, crazier things have been said about Conor and he’s done it. He literally predicts his exact what he’s gonna do in every fight. When he lost to Nate Diaz, I thought he was gonna lose again and he came out and he had the right game plan. He’s just brilliant. He knows how to figure out people. Not to mention, GSP has never had to deal with someone’s berating, that constant mental barrage that Conor McGregor does. Something is there. People haven’t quite figured it out but there’s something, an element that Conor McGregor adds that’s not just his skillset. He gets inside people’s heads and he ruins them before they even step inside the octagon. To say that he couldn’t do to GSP when he’s done it to everyone else, it’s insane to think that he couldn’t do that.
“So I just think he would probably do well. He’s evolving, he’s very athletic, he’s heavy handed. I think he could knock out a lot of guys bigger than him. Look how well he did against Mayweather. I was so impressed with how he did there. I thought he was gonna lose that fight handily and he hung in there tough.”
While St-Pierre is booked against Bisping, McGregor’s immediate future remains uncertain. Prior to his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. UFC president Dana White claimed that McGregor would return to the octagon before the end of the year. However, while reports have suggested that the UFC still plan on scheduling a third bout between McGregor and Nate Diaz on December 30th, the 29-year-old’s coach John Kavanagh has said that a return before the end of the year is unlikely.