Right now, Georges St. Pierre's only hope is that he can return to the UFC octagon before the end of 2012. He doesn't care where or who he fights, only that he can get back in the cage.
According to St. Pierre, the odds of that possibility are looking better by the day. Since undergoing ACL surgery on his right knee in Los Angeles last December, the UFC welterweight champion has remained there to attend to his physical therapy, and the results are encouraging.
Speaking via satellite to a Calgary press conference on Wednesday, St. Pierre said that his doctors have told him he's on track for the fastest rehabilitation they've seen for an ACL repair. That means that St. Pierre can begin to think about fighting again even though he's not yet close to resuming full-contact training.
"Even though I’m feeling almost 100 percent right now, I’m halfway through my rehab and I can't push too much because my graft is still not fused properly," he said. "Even though my muscle feels good, I have to wait the minimum amount of time that I’m allowed to start training again."
The Montreal native said he's expecting to begin his normal training around July. if that time frame holds true, it would make him a real possibility to compete in one of the UFC's Canadian cards. On Wednesday, the promotion announced dates in Calgary for July 21, Toronto for September 22, and Montreal for November 17.
Given the work in front of him, the last of those dates seems the most likely of the three.
St. Pierre said he will "cross my fingers" for the possibility of fighting in front of his home country fans, as he's done in each of his last two fights, but acknowledged that the decision is ultimately out of his hands.
"Trust me, we’ll take him as soon as he’s ready," UFC president Dana White said when asked where the UFC would slot him into his next title defense.
While interim champion Carlos Condit is first up on GSP's fight agenda, interestingly, he didn't shoot down a potential fight down the road with middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva. Though he admitted many circumstances would have to line up perfectly in order for it to happen, he declined to dismiss the possibility.
"If everything goes well, like stars are aligned and everything, maybe we’ll see one day in the near future about what’s going to happen," he said. "Am I going to go up? Is he going to come down? It’s too far to think about it right now, but it’s something that can happen, of course."
For the near future though, St. Pierre will again leave the spotlight in exchange for the dirty work of getting his knee strong. He hasn't competed since an April 2011 win over Jake Shields, and nothing more can happen for him professionally until he has his health back in order.
"When you get an injury like I have and you’re off for a long period of time, the only thing you wish is to get back fast as possible," he said. "I don’t know if it will be in the U.S. or Canada, but I wish and I pray that I have a chance to perform in 2012. No matter where it will be, I want to come back and fight in 2012."