Georges St-Pierre’s latest retirement could potentially be ending a lot sooner than anyone thought. It just may not be where many thought GSP would end up.
The legendary former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion recently stepped down from active MMA competition last month. St-Pierre was looking for a massive super fight with current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was the only fight he felt would further his already historic legacy.
But the UFC had other plans, and they didn’t involve St-Pierre coming out of self-imposed exiles to fight for whichever title he had his eyes on at the time. You could understand both sides’ points of view. There just weren’t a ton of fights that were big enough for GSP. Khabib was one of those few, and outside of a fight with Conor McGregor, the best one.
As for the UFC, well, you could see how letting St-Pierre fight for random titles in weight classes he didn’t normally compete in gummed up the machine. Add to that the uncertainty he would ever defend said title if he won, and it was becoming a short-sighted business decision for the calculating MMA leader. St-Pierre wouldn’t close the door on returning someday, however, and admitted the right offer could lure him out of retirement.
That opportunity may be coming along at a breakneck pace.
Meeting With ONE’s CEO
Recently, ONE Championship CEO Chadri Sityodtong posted the following photo of St-Pierre and himself on social media:
“Thank you to my bro Georges St-Pierre for coming to hang out in Singapore! We had an incredible 5 hour dinner together last night, and it was crazy to discover that we share so much in common. Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest mixed martial artists in history. Above all though, Georges is a true martial artist in his values, and how he lives life. A humble warrior with integrity and honor, he is a true inspiration to the world. RESPECT!!!”
It’s far from certain that St-Pierre is headed to ONE, of course. But there are whispers – albeit unconfirmed – that he will do just that. It’s also hard to imagine St-Pierre having a five-hour dinner with ONE’s CEO without some sort of lucrative business offer rearing its head.
What’s more, ONE has the money and has shown an extreme tendency to throw it around to successful-but-still-lesser former UFC stars like Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Sage Northcutt.
‘Mighty Mouse’ and Alvarez will make their ONE debuts at March 31’s epic ‘A New Era’ event from Tokyo. There’s simply no better time to announce St-Pierre as their latest and by-far greatest signing. ONE has the Asian MMA market essentially cornered, but they’ve yet to make waves in a US MMA market dominated by the UFC.
A Splash Signing For North America
This would be the perfect avenue with which to start making waves in North America.
St-Pierre proved he’s still a major draw despite a long absence in his last fight. He came out of an almost four-year retirement to fight former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, drawing roughly 875,000 buys on pay-per-view for UFC 217. Those are huge numbers for a non-Conor McGregor card these days, and show GSP still has major drawing power.
ONE has clearly been focused on making a splash in the last year. Inking GSP to a contract would surpass any other move they’ve been able to pull off thus far. It’s not even close, in fact. It’s fair to wonder just who St-Pierre would fight in his ONE tenure. But all of that can be sorted out once they get him in the door. As we saw with his UFC exit, it’s going to take a whole lot of cash to get him back in the cage. That’s not a problem for ONE.
Finally, ONE’s ethos seems to be tailor-made for everything GSP embodies as a mixed martial artist. The tagline on their official website reads as only six strong words: integrity, respect, humanity, honor, courage, and discipline. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fighter who carried out his career more accordingly with those aspects of MMA than GSP did. There may not be one.
Sityodtong has been steadfast in his commitment to those values for ONE. At one point he even said they would never sign McGregor due to those values.
So if they’re trying to get away from the trash talk-focused climate of today’s UFC, there’s just not a better fighter to represent your promotion. ONE will also be attempting to break into the North American market soon. Again, St-Pierre would be a perfect public face. Johnson and Alvarez are great signings, but they just aren’t as big as St-Pierre and never will be.
So it’s a match made it heaven between the two sides. Time will tell if it happens or not, yet it seems the wheels are definitely in motion. St-Pierre left the door open in his recent retirement, and now he may have an opportunity to walk right into a prominent spot with a growing force in the sport.
And with ONE set for their biggest event, there’s no better time to drop this bombshell on the fight game than right now.