Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre stunned the mixed martial arts world on Monday when he announced on The MMA Hour that he was "ready" to end his near three-year hiatus and return to the Octagon for one last good run. But not only did St-Pierre have comeback plans to share, he also had an opponent in mind for his first fight back -- a title challenge against the man currently tied with him for the most wins (19) in UFC history, middleweight beltholder Michael Bisping.
"There are two things I'm very proud of," St-Pierre said on The MMA Hour. "There's my title -- my welterweight title that I won -- and there's another record that I hold for the most wins in UFC history. And now I have someone who's challenging me for it in Michael Bisping.
"I do not believe, if I fight him, he will send me back to a movie set. Yes, he's bigger than me, but I believe I've got more skill, more athleticism, and a higher fighting IQ than he does. The world doesn't turn around me, but if it's a fight that the fans and the UFC want to make, they've got my number. They can call my agent, no problem. We can organize to make it happen and make an agreement."
St-Pierre's words about a "movie set" harken back to something Bisping said on The MMA Hour last week, when the Brit publicly challenged St-Pierre, said that he would "definitely win" any fight between the two veterans, and promised that he would end St-Pierre's comeback bid by sending the Canadian legend back to Hollywood. St-Pierre has landed several acting roles since his exit from the sport -- most notably as Batroc the Leaper in the Marvel blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Now 35 years old, St-Pierre last fought in the UFC in Nov. 2013, when he defended his welterweight title for the ninth consecutive time with a split decision victory over Johny Hendricks. Since then, St-Pierre has refused to say that he is officially retired, instead maintaining that he would return only for the right opportunity -- and it appears that a chance to become a two-division champion and reclaim his record over Bisping as the winningest fighter in UFC history is exactly what the doctor ordered.
"It's something big," St-Pierre said. "You just gave me the chills thinking about it, because it's not the first time that people have mentioned it. I'm sure Michael, on his side, people have talked to him about it, because he created a lot of buzz. I always said, if I come back, I would come back from something very big. Bisping is the man to beat right now. He beat (Anderson) Silva, he knocked out (Luke) Rockhold.
"He's the bigger name now. He's the man to beat right now. I always said if I come back, my first fight would be something big that gives me the chills. And he's a bigger name right now. He is the bigger name, the guy who has the spotlight right now. Like I said, the world doesn't turn around me. There are a lot of guys hunting him, but if it's a fight that the UFC wants and the fans want, if it creates a buzz and the money is there, because we're in a business, I'm down for it."
Of course, this is not the first time St-Pierre has flirted with a move up in weight. For years, the UFC tried to book a superfight between St-Pierre and longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, however the fight never came to pass. St-Pierre said on Monday that he "never really considered" going up a division for a one-off fight while he was the reigning UFC welterweight champion, but now that he is no longer tied down by the belt, he is free to look at his options "more experimentally," mentioning potential future fights against Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz as well.
As for Bisping, St-Pierre acknowledged that he would be at an obvious size disadvantage against the Brit -- St-Pierre is generously listed by the UFC at 5'10" and has always been a smaller welterweight, while Bisping stands at a much thicker 6'2" and has fought as high as light heavyweight -- but that he is confident his skill could help make up for any handicaps. St-Pierre also added that Bisping's long-held stance against performance enhancing drugs helps make him the "No. 1" option for his comeback fight, rather than fighters with failed drug tests in their past like Silva or Chael Sonnen.
"What I like about Bisping that makes him, for me, the best candidate: he's someone who talked a lot about performance enhancing drugs," St-Pierre said. "He's big-time against it. He never got caught using it, and that's one of the reasons why he's the No. 1 guy. He's someone I respect a lot, and for this reason, if I go up a weight class, he would be my first choice before Chael Sonnen or Silva or any other guys, because of that."