There was a brief period where Georges St-Pierre vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov was the most talked about “super” fight in the sport. When Nurmagomedov unexpectedly retired after dispatching Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, he did so at the absolute top of the game. Undefeated, multiple title defenses, pound-for-pound king — Nurmagomedov left a major void when he stepped down.
After his retirement, talks of “GSP” vs. Khabib really heated up. Despite numerous obstacles — like retirement and a weight class gap, for example — it seemed like the only potential match up that could draw both men into the cage. The potential showdown actually delayed the Lightweight title from moving forward for a little while, as UFC President, Dana White, was loathe to accept that Nurmagomedov was truly done.
Now that the dust has settled, St-Pierre sat down with Patrick Bet-David and discussed his side of the negotiations. In the Canadian’s view, it was all part of a strange “chess game” with the promoter.
“What happened now — because Khabib is retired and I’m retired — so now, the UFC… Dana called me and he’s like, ‘Oh, now would you be interested to fight Khabib?’ He asked me. He called me,” St. Pierre explained (via BloodyElbow). “But I thought it was strange because I never wanted to do it. And now, because he called me for that reason, I was like… I didn’t want to do it, but I told Dana, just to see what happens because I was curious. You know it’s always a chess game when the promoter calls you.
“I didn’t say no, I said, ‘OK. Let me think about it,’” he continued. “The way Dana talked to me, it was like Khabib already accepted. But, it wasn’t true. It was just fishing to make the fight happen. They knew now that we were both retired, so now, for them, it was an opportunity to make a big-money fight.”
Despite the potential money to be made for everyone involved, the match didn’t come to fruition. Nurmagomedov had already confirmed his retirement multiple times, despite how it came across in White’s phone call with St-Pierre. In the process, St-Pierre believes he was lied to and described the entire situation as “BS.”
“So I said I’m going to think about it and I wait a few days and I saw in the media that Ali Abdelaziz came out publicly and said ‘Hey, now Georges wants to fight, but now we already retired…’ It was all BS.
“Dana kind of lied to me,” he continued. “They didn’t approach Khabib first, they approached me first to make it happen. I know now for a fact (that Dana lied to me). A hundred percent.”
Finally, St-Pierre believes the negotiations also tie-in toward his relatively recent attempt to crossover into the boxing ring, which White and UFC shot down. St. Pierre likely would’ve scored a major payday, but he didn’t want to the be bad guy by going to court over the issue.
“Dana, now, could’ve gotten back to the media and said, ‘Oh, why would I let Georges go fight in boxing when he doesn’t want to fight Khabib with the UFC?’ So he would’ve had a good reason.
“That’s why he did this,” he concluded. “It was a strategic move on his part. It’s always like this with Dana.”