Legendary former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre made one of MMA’s legitimate feel-good moments when he came back from four years off to win the middleweight title from Michael Bisping at last November’s UFC 217 from New York.
Questions arose about his chances fighting up a class he’d never competed in before, but St-Pierre answered those with a resounding display of striking and wrestling, perhaps fighting at a level even he had never attained despite being regarded as one of the finest mixed martial artists of all-time.
But that success came with a dire price, and he ultimately had to vacate the 185-pound title when he suffered a bout of colitis from the increased diet he ate in order to keep weight on at middleweight. So he vacated the title hardly a month after he won it, drawing some criticism that he only came back for an ‘easy fight’ in Bisping and never planned on defending the title.
Noting that he could have kept the belt if he really wanted to, he instead chose to let the division move forward instead of costing his fellow athletes a chance to improve their standing:
“I could have kept the title for one year, walked around with and take the sponsors. And I could be in the spotlight, say I’m the champion. The truth is I don’t know, I knew I had a condition, I knew I would probably lose weight because I was forcing myself to eat like crazy; it’s not how I eat,
“I had a lot of water retention, not at my natural weight and it’s not a healthy way of living. The reason I vacated the title is because I did not want to put the division on hold. I didn’t want people to wait for me. Even though I could’ve done it, I didn’t want to be that guy. I have always been very vocal about fights, being for the fighter’s conditions and I didn’t want to be the guy who stalled the division. Because everyone’s trying to make money and a living. That’s why I vacated the title.”
While he won a classic bout in his return, his fighting future was thrust into unsure territory yet again, and that was only further clouded when he said he also didn’t defend the middleweight title because he didn’t know what weight he’d be fighting at when he returned.
In his eyes, it could be at 185 or 170 – or even down at 155 pounds:
“As far as if I will defend it or not, I don’t know where my weight will be when I will get back. Like, I don’t know if I will be 185, or 170, maybe even 155, you know?”
In doing so, he potentially confirmed he would return, something that Helwani asked him about him immediately.
St-Pierre said he would most likely return to fighting after his health improved:
“I think so, I think I will fight again. It just depends on my health condition and everything. It’s too soon to say now, but I feel much better now than what I did after my fight. I always prioritized my health over my performance. And I knew something was wrong with my body, and I don’t feel right in my own skin,”
If he does return, however, he wants it to be for a fight that elevates him even further into the public eye, no easy task based on his prior body of work. After so many high-profile bouts where he was the hunted, he now wants a fight where he has a lot to win as well:
“If I fight, it needs to be something that excites me, something that elevates me. The fight with Michael Bisping was a big risk, but he had the potential to elevate me as a fighter and my legacy,” said St-Pierre. “That’s why I took the fight, it was a great opportunity, a win-win opportunity. I could have lost and it could have been a disaster. But I was confident I put the work in and it would’ve been win-win. I had a lot to win, and a lot to lose. If I come back, there has to be a lot to win for me, not just a lot to lose.”
I’m no psychic, but the talk of a fight where he has ‘a lot to win’ after fighting a whos who of mixed martial arts talent for the past decade coupled with his hint at a move to lightweight could mean he wants one fight – the elusive payday against current UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor.
McGregor’s tentatively set to come back against the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, or maybe he’ll fight Floyd Mayweather in the Octagon, or perhaps he’ll even finish his oft-discussed trilogy with Nate Diaz, making his queue quite full for a man who doesn’t seem in a hurry to fight again.
St-Pierre will have to wait in line, but if he can get it, there’s not much doubt it could be the biggest fight in UFC history.