In A ‘Rush’: Why The Time Is Just Right For GSP’s Return

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Last week UFC superstar Georges St-Pierre dropped the strongest hint yet that he’s on the verge of a comeback, admitting that he was “in talks” with the promotion about a possible return to the action for the first time in over two years.

The welterweight legend indicated that there are still hurdles to be overcome, but you would imagine that behind the scenes the UFC is doing everything in their power to pave the way for the return of one of the sport’s biggest ever stars.

Should the 34-year-old risk a return to the Octagon at this stage in his career though?

In this article we’ll argue that there are five major reasons why there’s never been a better time for this pound-for-pound great to get back to doing what he does best.

GSP Dana White1. The UFC Has Taken Steps To Clean Up The Sport

When GSP stepped away from the sport in late 2013 he made it clear that one of the main reasons he was doing so was due to the lack of high-level drug testing in the UFC.

Leading by example during the lead-up to his last fight with Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, St-Pierre requested that they both undergo enhanced testing. In the end Hendricks’ camp pulled out due to a disagreement as to which agency should be involved, but nevertheless, GSP still paid out of his own pocket to undergo full VADA testing.

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During St-Pierre’s lengthy absence from the Octagon, the UFC has now stepped up their anti-drug testing procedures dramatically in an effort to clean up the sport.

First implemented in mid-2015, their partnership with USADA has already caught several UFC fighters using banned substances, including three within just the past couple of weeks (Frank Mir, Lyoto Machida and Islam Makhachev).

With that hurdle cleared, there’s never been a better time for GSP to return to the sport and experience firsthand the fruition of his belief that the sport should be based purely, “on talent, technique, athletic talent and not based on who has access to better technology.”

GSP Boxing2. He’s Still Relatively Fresh For His Age

A welcome benefit to being one of the best and most dominant fighters the sport has ever seen is that GSP has endured less punishment than the majority of his peers, relative to his age and experience.

In his 11-year, 27-fight professional career, the Canadian superstar has only suffered defeat twice, and just one of those came by TKO against Matt Serra, with his other loss resulting from a submission against Matt Hughes.

St-Pierre has never been a reckless fighter, and at times in his career he has successfully used a safety-first approach that’s relied heavily on controlling potentially dangerous opponents on the mat as opposed to slugging it out with them on the feet.

Admittedly, in the latter stages of his UFC run he started to take more shots, but that was perhaps over-emphasized due to the fact that he’d taken so little damage up to that point.

He’s sensibly had well over two years on the sidelines now, and despite stepping away from competing, he’s remained in good physical shape in the gym and continued to hone his skills, so a fresh, rejuvenated GSP could be a nightmare for the rest of the welterweight division.

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Robbie Lawler 13. There Are New Contenders At Welterweight

By the time GSP decided to step away from the sport, he had essentially cleaned out the division, having successfully defended his title against a who’s who of 170-pound talent at the time, and avenged his only two career losses.

You couldn’t have blamed him for losing motivation at that stage, as it seemed there was little left for him to prove.

However, during his absence, new contenders have emerged, including the division’s new reigning champion, Robbie Lawler, who has breathed new life into the weight class.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has also become a major force to be reckoned with, recently dismantling Johny Hendricks with ease – a fighter who gave GSP one of his hardest-ever fights.

On paper, St. Pierre matches up well with both of those fighters, and after a long spell out of the spotlight this could well be the time to prove to the world that he’s still king of the hill.

SIlvaGSPSparringSession4. A Superfight With Anderson Silva Still Has To Happen

There’s been talk of a potential superfight between GSP and fellow pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva for many years, but the welterweight kingpin always seemed much more hesitant than his Brazilian counterpart to pull the trigger on the match-up.

The weight difference between the two was always the biggest issue for St-Pierre, though the fact that at one stage Silva was also demolishing everybody at 185 pounds with apparent ease probably didn’t help.

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However, Silva’s now been shown to be human after all, with his long unbeaten run now at an end, and even the likes of Michael Bisping having recently got the better of him.

From a sporting perspective the optimal time for this fight has passed, but if St-Pierre wants to tie up one of the few remaining loose ends in his career, while maximizing his chances of a successful outcome, then there’s never been a better time to fight ‘The Spider’.

GSP Belt5. There Are Huge Events On The Horizon

GSP is a man who’s become accustomed to the big occasion. After all, he co-headlined UFC 100, the biggest MMA pay-per-view (PPV) of all time back in 2009, and then went on to headline UFC 129, which, up until recently, delivered the UFC’s biggest live audience of all time with over 55,000 fans.

With that in mind, now would be the perfect time for St-Pierre to resurface as there are two historic events looming on the horizon in 2016.

Dana White has promised to “blow people’s minds” with the UFC 200 lineup. Adding GSP to that already stacked card would fit the bill, and could set the promotion on their way to breaking UFC 100’s record of 1.6 million PPV buys.

If July is too soon for St-Pierre, then UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in NYC this November is also set to be a monumental moment in MMA history that every fighter wants to be a part of, and the promotion would undoubtedly jump at the chance to have a fighter of GSP’s caliber on board.