Depending on who you decide to listen to, Georges St-Pierre will make his return to the octagon either at the beginning of 2016 or later in the year. One thing is almost certain, though, the former long-time welterweight champion is coming back to the sport he walked away from in 2013 after making the eighth straight defence of his title. So with the Canadian superstar seemingly set to make a return to the UFC, the question has to be asked as to who he will make his return against if and when he does step back into the octagon.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll be looking to reclaim his 170-pound belt or if it is super-fights which St-Pierre will be chasing upon his return. But there won’t be any shortage of options out there for one of the greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artists. Despite the 34-year-old so far refusing to confirm his plans, it hasn’t stopped large sections of the media drafting up a list of potential opponents for St-Pierre. While a super-fight with Anderson Silva holds plenty of appeal, if it’s the title the former champion is after, the name Carlos Condit is one that keeps being mentioned as a possible bout against St-Pierre.
If it’s the title St-Pierre is looking for, Condit may well be the man wearing the belt by the time he makes his return. St-Pierre and Condit met in a memorable welterweight unification clash in November of 2012, with the Canadian champion edging out a razor-thin decision against a man he recently described as the “most dangerous guy in the division”. Currently preparing to meet reigning champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 195, before any potential rematch with the former king, Condit will have to come through what could be an epic title fight in Las Vegas against the man who beat St-Pierre’s long-time friend, Rory MacDonald, at UFC 189.
Going into the fight as a slight 11/10 underdog with 32Red Canada, 10Bet and other bookmakers, Condit will definitely have his hands full with Lawler when he meets the current champion at the start of the New Year. While the former interim champion has beaten the best in the world throughout his time in the UFC, this new-look Robbie Lawler has proven during his short time as champ that he is a different animal to the one who first fought in the octagon at UFC 37 and it’s not a huge surprise to see punters backing him to retain his title with the likes of 32Red. In what will go down long in the memory, Lawler’s brutal and at times gruesome victory over MacDonald proved beyond doubt that Condit will need to be ready for war if he’s going to have a chance of ripping the belt away from the champion.
Fighters like Georges St-Pierre don’t come around too often and the UFC would most likely allow him whatever he wanted in terms of opponent should he return. The fight with Anderson Silva has been talked about for years, albeit mainly at a time when both men ruled their respective divisions, but there is little doubt a match-up with the former middleweight champion would be one of the biggest fights of the year. Following his recent problems and resulting ban, Silva appears likely to make his return to the sport during the early stages of 2016. While a rematch with Vitor Belfort has long been mooted, Silva would probably be more open to a more lucrative fight with St-Pierre considering his age and limited time left in the sport.
Elsewhere, you’d be hard pressed to find a welterweight or middleweight who wouldn’t take the opportunity to welcome St-Pierre back into the sport. Should he beat Condit and hang onto the belt, a fight against Robbie Lawler would be one that would have the MMA community licking their lips in anticipation, and then, of course, you’ve got Nick Diaz. Currently serving a controversial ban following a failed drug test after his defeat by Anderson Silva, Diaz is reportedly close to agreeing a deal that sees his suspension shortened, which could theoretically open up the possibility of a rematch with St-Pierre. While the Canadian claimed a relatively comfortable points win over Diaz in 2013, the MMA world has never hidden its desire to see the two bitter rivals step back into the cage again.