GSP return sets up many possibilities

Following a four-year layoff from MMA, Georges St-Pierre, also known as GSP, defeated longtime UFC veteran and middleweight champion Michael Bisping at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 to become the new undisputed middleweight champion. The former welterweight champ also became the fourth person in history to win belts in multiple divisions.

This win comes after constant debate concerning St-Pierre’s passion for fighting.

UFC president Dana White had publicly stated in 2016, “Georges St-Pierre doesn’t have that ‘I want to be a world champion’ attitude anymore. He doesn’t have that drive and desire that he once had. And if you don’t have that, no, you shouldn’t fight.”

St-Pierre continued to argue against White that he was the best that he had ever been. The crowd saw that on Nov. 4, with an excellent performance by the newly crowned champion. He showed the background of a more well-rounded fighter and vastly improved his striking.

There are many possibilities for St-Pierre’s next fight, the most likely of all against Robert Whittaker. Whittaker had beaten Yoel Romero back at UFC 213 in July to claim an interim belt that gives him exclusivity to be the next person fighting for the undisputed title. Bisping did not fight Whittaker next was because Whittaker needed knee surgery following the Romero fight. There are a lot of gray areas in this fight, which make it interesting to see where the UFC will go.

The proponents of the fight claim that St-Pierre’s most recent contract ahead of the Bisping fight states that he must defend the belt at least once following his victory. However, Whittaker is not an easy fight. He has perhaps the best boxing in the game and very good takedown defense. The only problem is that there is a fight card in Whittaker’s home country of Australia in February. The UFC and Whittaker have both expressed huge interest in the mixed martial artist fighting on that card, which would mean a quick turnaround for St-Pierre.

Another possible matchup would take place between Anderson “The Spider” Silva and St-Pierre. This fight was supposed to take place back in 2012, when both fighters were at the top of their game and ruled their respective divisions. It was supposed to settle the argument of who was the greatest of all time in UFC. Unfortunately, Silva has recently been flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for a banned substance.

If found guilty, this will be the second suspension of Silva’s career and will most likely lead to a long-term suspension, like fans have recently seen with Jon Jones. The possibility of not being able to return until his mid-40s could spell the end of Silva’s career.

The original fight for St-Pierre’s return was supposed to be against Tyron Woodley, but following three matches that saw Woodley fight conservatively to victory did nothing but infuriate the UFC’s brass. Woodley is the current welterweight champion, a division that St-Pierre ruled over for most of his career.

It is a dangerous fight for the middleweight champion, given the heavy hands and elite wrestling of Woodley. Woodley has been looking for a “big money fight” since his victory over Robbie Lawler at UFC 201, but his recent performances against Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia have only deluded White from making that happen.

A fight that would elevate the world of combat sports beyond mainstream sports and entertainment media would be one between St-Pierre and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. It would be a historic fight between the two biggest pay-per-view drawers in MMA history.

This fight would most likely shatter the Floyd Mayweather-McGregor numbers and designate the sport of MMA as a household one. From a business aspect, this fight makes the most sense. It could happen at 155 pounds, 170 pounds or even a catchweight fight to which both sides agree.

The buildup and the media tours would be like nothing the audience has ever seen before and would make for a truly momentous occasion.

On paper, the actual fight is very intriguing. Setting McGregor — perhaps the most well-rounded striker in the game against St-Pierre — with an all-around fighter would create a great matchup with a whole array of possibilities.

There have already been Vegas betting lines behind the possible fight, which have St-Pierre as the favorite over McGregor. White’s comments on the fight leave fans on the edges of their seats, saying, “Never say never.”

SportsPeter LambrouComment