Former UFC superstar and welterweight kingpin Georges “Rush” St-Pierre has come out of retirement and plans on making his return to the Octagon sometime later this year. UFC President Dana White announced that St-Pierre’s first match-up will be against longtime UFC veteran and middleweight champion Michael Bisping, as confirmed by Bleacher Report. Bisping has been a contender in the UFC for a decade and remains one of the organization’s longest running competitors. A clash between the British kickboxer and Canadian wrestler for the middleweight title has all the right ingredients for a monumental showdown.
Many have come out as critics of the St-Pierre/Bisping fight, namely Luke Rockhold, former UFC middleweight champion, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. Rockhold explained that the divisions within the UFC are already swollen with talent and ability, and current, active fighters should be considered before ‘super-fights’ and ‘paydays’ are scheduled. Even Bisping laid out a timeline for St-Pierre to return, giving the challenger until July to get his camp organized, or the title shot will be given to Yoel Romero, per Fox Sports.
“Georges has never fought at middleweight and he’s been out for four years. It makes no sense. I understand that there’s a debt to pay, but there’s better ways to do it. There are other fights that are bigger. You talk about money fights, Bisping is not a money fight, so you might as well put St-Pierre against a Nick Diaz or Anderson Silva.”
If St-Pierre can get his ducks in a row before midsummer, and step up to face Bisping in July, St-Pierre will officially start his final run as a UFC competitor. St-Pierre was the reigning welterweight champion for nearly a decade, and racked up a pile of records and accomplishments that no other welterweight has come close to. St-Pierre vacated his title and went on hiatus after a controversial victory over Johny Hendricks in 2013. Returning at 35 years old, St-Pierre expressed his interest in proving that he is the “best of all-time” as reported by Bloody Elbow.
“I walk around at 185, 190 pounds. I’m going to fight at 185 right now. I even know some guys who fight at 155 who walk around in the offseason at a bigger weight than I am. I can possibly fight in those three divisions. But I’m back for one reason, I want to make history. I’m going to be 36 years old when I’m going to fight, and it’s all going to depend on what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen.
I have no desire to fight until I’m 40-something years old. These are my last fight few that I’m going to do, and I want to pick them very carefully. And when I say carefully, I mean that I want to make the biggest fights possible. The fights that are going to cement my legacy as the best of all-time. And that’s what I want to do, I want to make history. And maybe I’m going to fail, but at least if I fail, I’m going to have no regrets when I’m going to be 50 years old.”
If St-Pierre defeats Bisping, he’ll become one of few to hold titles in two different divisions. St-Pierre would have a number of options before him in terms of potential super-fight match-ups. If St-Pierre chose to defend the middleweight title after securing it, the UFC could finally arrange a ‘Silva Vs. St-Pierre’ main event, something that MMA fans have been barking about for years. The issue is that Silva isn’t a legitimate contender in the weight class and would need to string together a series of victories to actually earn the fight. Out of his last six performances, Silva carries four loses, one no contest, and a unanimous decision victory over Derek Brunson. Silva is currently scheduled to face hard hitting up-and-comer Kelvin Gastelum. A win over Gastelum could be a step in the right direction for a Silva/St-Pierre showdown.
If St-Pierre has no interest in defending the middleweight strap, or loses to Bisping, or performs poorly in the new weight class, there are still options on the table. Current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is riding a pair of lackluster performances over karate-styled kickboxer Stephen Thompson. St-Pierre could return to his roots in the 170 lbs division and rekindle the excitement within the welterweight class.
“There’s a guy in the welterweight division I see, to me, that if I have to make a prediction, I believe he will be the champion. I don’t like to see past things, but I think as he is right now, Demian Maia is very, very skilled. I see him as a very big threat right now for the title. I think he’s going to win over Jorge Masvidal, and I think he’s going to win over Tyron Woodley if he fights him. He’s older and he’s in his prime right now. I think he reached his perfect timing between physical, mental, and his game.”
According to Bloody Elbow, St-Pierre could be hungry for a welterweight resurgence, and has his eye on Brazilian jiu-jitsu guru Demian Maia. There’s no question in regards to St-Pierre making 170 lbs and garnering interest in a welterweight bout against pretty much any contender; it really boils down to who St-Pierre wants to face in his hunt for super-fights.
Of course, there are also whispers of a potential drop down to the lightweight division, where ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor is the reigning champion. Although St-Pierre has yet to actually return to the Octagon, there is a lot of buzz around a lightweight bout between St-Pierre and the Irishman. McGregor has made waves of his own during his time in the UFC, becoming the organization’s first active two-division champion. A super-fight between St-Pierre and McGregor could be the UFC’s biggest event of the year.
Regardless of his choice in opponents, St-Pierre is a long way off from securing the record of being the UFC’s first three division champion. St-Pierre can only make one fight at a time, and it all depends on how he performs in his return to the UFC.
[Featured Image by Isaac Brekken/AP Images]