Fight fans have been wondering when, or even if, former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre will return to the Octagon.
After defeating Michael Bisping via submission back at UFC 217 last year to claim the undisputed middleweight title (only to later relinquish the belt), GSP once again walked away from the sport of MMA with no specific return in mind. An unexpected battle with ulcerative colitis gave the 37-year-old more reason to regroup on the sidelines.
It has been over a year since UFC 217 and St-Pierre is finally calling himself healthy. But that doesn’t mean the Canadian superstar is thinking about another return to the cage (just yet).
“I’m feeling great physically, in great shape like never before,” St-Pierre said in a recent interview with the La Sueur podcast. “[Ulcerative colitis] is very serious but I’ve fully recovered from it. I don’t need to take my medication anymore. . .
“I could [come back] but to tell the truth, it’s less and less tempting for me. I did not think I would say that one day: I’m getting older. I don’t want to fight a young guy that hasn’t made it on the legacy side, that isn’t a name. I would have nothing to win. Every time we enter the octagon, it’s a risk. you could have a bad day. . . We are always a mistake away from the KO or a serious injury., so it’s always a risk and the risk must be worth it.
“I’m not interested in coming back, fighting a rising star, and destroying that guy. It give me nothing and I destroy the dream of a rising star. Both of us are losing then, we are just earning more money. If I come back, it’s not necessarily for more money but for legacy.”
One fighter that could potentially attract St-Pierre back to the Octagon is none other than current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Not only has Khabib called GSP out in the past, but "Eagle" just demolished combat megastar Conor McGregor back at UFC 229 to push his undefeated MMA record to 27-0.
Needless to say, a victory over Khabib would help GSP claim the legacy-building win he's looking for.
“Khabib said that he would like to fight me before the McGregor fight,” St-Pierre said. “It did not interest me at that time. He was not famous, he did not beat someone with a title or with a name. Now that he beat McGregor, it’s better.
“[But] I’m not the guy who calls out people. It’s not my personality. I know people are talking about that fight; however, I know the UFC would not be interested in that fight at 155 [pounds]. They know that I’m at the end of my career. I have not many fights left. I will come back for maybe 1, 2, 3 fights. Maybe zero. Maybe I will not come back and I’m okay with that.”
Fight fans have been down this road before. Last time St-Pierre stepped away from MMA it took him nearly four years to return. While GSP is likely to make a decision much sooner than that this time around given his current age, it's anyone's guess as to when he actually steps back inside of the cage, and which opponent is needed to get him there.
“When I set goals I said that I didn’t want to be pushed out of the sport,” St-Pierre explained. “I wanted to retire on my own terms and on top. If I do that now, I would have accomplished my mission.
“However, the competitor inside me is still here, so when I see the young guys getting ready for a fight after a workout, with me feeling good and strong, it makes me want to come back. That’s where it’s the most difficult for me. I want to go back there. I feel fit, at my top. I feel better than when I was 25. But when I’m with my family and all, that’s less tempting. When I wake up in the morning, I’m asking myself: ‘Do you really want to go back in that circus?’”