Georges St. Pierre is finally ready to return to the UFC after taking two and a half years out from the sport.
The former welterweight champion, who vacated the title in November of 2013, confirmed his intention to step back into the Octagon during an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour radio show yesterday.
“Exactly. That’s what I’m saying,” St-Pierre said when asked by Helwani if he was announcing his comebck. “I’m ready. I’m an emotional guy. My agents, even before I came on the show today, they briefed me. They said, ‘don’t say this, don’t say that.’ They briefed me, they said, ‘we’re in negotiations, remember, blah, blah, blah.’ Like, yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t worry, I’m not a kid. But I’m an emotional guy, and when I get emotional sometimes, I say things that are necessarily in the best of my interests, and I’m trying to not go overboard with that.
“But the only thing is, I love my sport and I still feel I’m at my best right now. The clock is running. I’m not getting any younger. I’m in the peak of my career and if there is a shot, there is another goal, another run, I better do it and do it quick, because it is time to do it now.”
St. Pierre had left the sport in the midst of a 12 fight winning streak, following a split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. That impressive run had included nine successful defenses of his title, but in his absence Robbie Lawler has now become the king of the hill at 170lbs.
Now 35 years-old, GSP says he first put himself through a training camp to confirm 100% whether he really wanted to make a comeback or not, and it seems that was the catalyst for yesterday’s announcement.
“What I did is I did a training camp to see where I’m at,” St-Pierre said. “I’ve been training, but being in shape and being in fighting shape is something different. I did a training to push myself and go back to the highest level of competition. I didn’t fight, but I put myself through a training camp and I sparred and everything, and I did it successfully. Now I know for a fact that I could go back and fight, if my management and the UFC get to an agreement.”
A potential fight with Lawler to reclaim the welterweight title might not be the first priority for the Canadian superstar though, as he’s also expressed an interest in moving up to middleweight to fight the division’s new champion, Michael Bisping.
“Look, it’s something big,” GSP said of a title fight with Bisping. “You just give me the chills thinking about it, because it’s not the first time that people have mentioned it. I’m sure Michael and his side people have talked to him about it, because he creates a lot of buzz. I always said if I come back, I would come back for something very big. Bisping is the man to beat right now. He beat Silva, he knocked out Rockhold, Rockhold beat Jacare and Weidman. [Bisping is] bigger than me. [When I was fighting as a welterweight] I never really considered going up and going back down after, because I was the welterweight champion. Now that I’ve retired, I can make things more experimentally. I could, if I want to, fight at lightweight, as well. It would be easy for me. I could fight at welterweight, and I can also fight at middleweight. I’m not a big welterweight, and even though Michael Bisping is bigger than me, I believe if I fight him, I believe I’ll beat him.”
That would certainly be a big fight, and one that GSP could have a realistic chance of winning, but whatever happens, he acknowledges that it’s a gamble to return at this stage in his career.
“I have a lot to lose in this, because I finished on top. I finished as champion, and that’s the way everybody would like to leave the sport — on top, healthy, and wealthy — and I did it. If I go back and, it needs to be for something big. I think for my first fight, it needs to be for something big, and that’ll give me the swing and the momentum to do it again and again and again for another run.
“So it depends on what it going to happen, but I have a lot to lose, but the thing is also, the reason why I’ve been thinking of coming back, is I don’t want to end up at 80 years old and telling myself, ‘I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that.’ Because all of the things I regret in my life the most, it’s not the things that I have done. It’s the things that I have not done, the things that I regret the most. So I don’t want to end up where I’m too old and say, ‘aw, I should’ve done it. I was in great shape. My timing was impeccable, and I didn’t do it,’ so I would die with regret.”