GSP’s Return Could Come Right When The UFC Needs It

georges st-pierre ufc stats

The MMA world got what is hopefully a sign of things to come when a report surfaced earlier today that decorated former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre would finally return to action at December 10’s UFC 206 pay-per-view (PPV) from Toronto.

Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but with St. Pierre recently enrolling in the UFC’s drug testing protocol with USADA – a requirement for un-retiring fighters – hope is understandably palpable for the all-time great to return to the Octagon.

Even though his last several fights were derided as boring and safe, albeit wholly dominant, decision wins, it’s safe to say that something has been missing ever since the soft-spoken Canadian superstar vacated the title after his controversial split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013. St. Pierre was a draw unlike any other; a draw especially unlike the loudmouth requirements that are seemingly a must in today’s fast-paced, social media-driven MMA world.

Not to sound bitter, because both the UFC and MMA as a whole are undoubtedly at an all-new level of excitement and exposure, and that can only be a good thing for the sport. But St. Pierre, who could bring in big numbers without fabricating any sort of bad blood, would simply add a master from another time who was arguably (maybe?) still in his prime, a dynamic that would make for must-see action.

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And with the UFC recently having been purchased by talent group WME-IMG for a record-breaking billion, GSP’s potential return couldn’t come at a better time for the new owners, or Dana White, either. While MMA is hot right now thanks to the Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz brawl that most likely broke records at last weekend’s UFC 202, overall, difference-making star power was on the decline in the UFC this year.

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Of course, there were the controversial drug test failures of UFC 200 headliners Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar, and while those two will reportedly receive somewhat shortened sentences based on the circumstances (Jones has a strange defense for his failure), the damage was obviously done to the UFC’s so-called “biggest event ever” marquee of UFC 200. Jones hasn’t been able to stay out of trouble, and at this point only he can prove he can finally stop standing in his way of being the most dominant competitor MMA has ever witnessed.

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McGregor, while still a massive star in his own right, had cooled off a bit from his second-round submission loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196. He got it back at UFC 202 – controversial or not – so now he’ll continue on as the game’s biggest star. The only other athlete to give him a run for his money as the UFC’s biggest name was Ronda Rousey, and we’re simply uncertain when or if the onetime bantamweight queen will ever return to the cage.

MMA: UFC 173-Varner vs Krause

This week, White confirmed that Rousey wouldn’t be fighting at the promotion’s long-awaited New York debut of UFC 2015 on November 12, as if we truly needed confirmation of that. We didn’t. Rousey had some minor knee surgery done a couple months ago as well, yet it’s not her physical health that’s keeping her from returning for what she lost. The fight game could certainly use by far its biggest female star back in the game, but business rolls on.

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That’s why a St. Pierre return would be so huge. It comes at the right time when Jones may be forced to miss UFC 205 due to his USADA punishment and Rousey is out, so while New York is still very much up in the air, the UFC could knock it out of the park only a month later by simply confirming that St. Pierre is back.

The fights available for him are absolutely huge, as bouts with McGregor, Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping, his long-rumored super fight with Anderson Silva, or even a welterweight title fight with Tyron Woodley would all do big business.

Respect his accomplishments or hate his style, you can’t deny that St. Pierre is just good for the fight game.