One of the greatest fighters in UFC history might be coming back soon. Georges St-Pierre hung up his gloves and vacated the welterweight title (a title he had owned since the Mesozoic era) in late 2013, and speculation about when he would fight again kicked off shortly after. He almost came back to the promotion last year ahead of UFC 206 in Toronto, but talks were ultimately derailed.
According to a report from MMA Fighting, GSP and the UFC have agreed to terms on a new contract and are set to finalize their arrangement shortly. Given the contentious relationship GSP has had with UFC management, there’s still plenty of reason to be skeptical of the French Canadian actually returning and fighting until he steps into the octagon, but this is certainly the closest he’s been to fighting since he announced that he needed to step away after getting his face pounded in by Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
St-Pierre is 35 now, and although he hasn’t lost in a decade, he got beat up in his last three fights as much as he did over the rest of his career (412 of the 875 times he strikes he took over his career came in his victories over Hendricks, Nick Diaz, and Carlos Condit). He hasn’t submitted or knocked anyone out since early 2009, but he defended his welterweight title nine times and is one of the biggest stars in UFC history. His long-awaited return to the octagon will be one of the best UFC spectacles of 2017, regardless of who he nails with a superman punch.
So, uh, who should that be? Oddsmakers have middleweight champ Michael Bisping as the prohibitive favorite, followed by Anderson Silva, Stephen Thompson, Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, and Nick Diaz. Bisping is probably going to have to defend his belt against Yoel Romero first, and current welterweight champion Woodley is fighting Thompson next month. MMA Fighting reports that GSP is targeting a return in the fall of 2017, which puts him on track for a fight against anyone listed above (unless that Bisping-Romero fight keeps getting pushed back).
It seems that the UFC wants to bank him for a big-time fight against a current or former star and is willing to wait a bit to do so. Given that he looked a step slow back in 2013 then took the intervening years off, there’s no real way of knowing how sharp he’ll be. It might be the least consequential fight possible, but I vote we run back his 2013 fight against American hero Nick Diaz, who may or may not have been frickin’ drugged at the time.