When Georges St-Pierre willingly relinquished his UFC middleweight title last December, he admitted he wasn’t sure if he would ever fight again. “GSP” had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, likely as a result of his move up to the 185-pound division to challenge Michael Bisping at UFC 217, and his fighting future was uncertain after becoming only the fourth athlete in promotional history to capture UFC titles in two different weight divisions.
Speaking Monday on The MMA Hour, St-Pierre provided an update to his situation. The 36-year-old welterweight legend said that his condition has improved, and that although he remains on medication for his ulcerative colitis, many of his worst symptoms have been resolved. St-Pierre also said he has lost significant weight as a result of his recovery, which has included performing one 24-hour and one 48-hour fast per week.
Altogether, the entire process has caused St-Pierre to feel much healthier in his daily life, and he now hovers around a slimmer weight of “between 180 and 185” pounds.
“It’s a lot better,” St-Pierre told host Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I’m on medication, but I started doing intermittent fasting and it helped me a lot. A lot of my symptoms are gone and I feel a lot better, however I lost a lot of weight, but I’m very, very ripped. It seems like the cause of that (sickness) was probably the fact that I tried eat so much, and forced myself to eat to elevate my weight, and with the stress and everything, I don’t think it was a good thing to do for me. I learned from my mistakes.”
All of which leads to an obvious question: Is St-Pierre planning to ever fight again?
While the future Hall of Famer declined to speak of an Octagon return with 100 percent certainty until his medical issues are fully resolved, he did indicate that the option of competing again in the UFC remains something that interests him.
“I need to wait for my condition, to see where my weight will be at and where my health will be at,” St-Pierre said. “I’m still on medication right now, so I can’t fight right now, as we (said), because I’m sure if I go back, even if I start feeling better, if I go back to fighting with the stress and everything, bang, I will probably go right back into it (feeling sick). So I need to wait a little bit, see how it feels. (I need) to be stable for a longer period of time.
“I’ve not closed the door (on my career),” St-Pierre continued. “And also, I will have to think about what weight (I return at), at 185, 170, 155, what would be the weight. I’ve won the title at 170 many times. Doesn’t mean I cannot go back and try to go for the title, but for me, now that I’m at the end of my career, if I do something, it needs to be something that excites me, something that is a win-win situation that can elevate me. I’ve said it many times. I know I repeat myself, but it’s the truth.”
St-Pierre responded coyly when asked who that potential opponent to excite him could be, saying only that the stars would have to align for the type of fight that could have a positive impact on his legacy. In various ways, the conversation broached possible fights with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight titleholder Ben Askren, and both Diaz brothers — Nick and Nate — however St-Pierre did not tip his hand as to a particular fight that interests him above any other.
Already widely regarded as the greatest welterweight to ever compete, St-Pierre added that he looks back fondly on what he accomplished against Bisping, calling it the “number-one” accomplishment of a decorated career that spans 16 years.
St-Pierre compared his UFC 217 return to “fairy tale,” citing the stakes involved and his long-held desire to compete in New York. He said he doesn’t regret his decision to move up to middleweight, even despite the medical consequences he’s dealt with as a result. St-Pierre also dismissed any criticism he has received, both from outside voices and from UFC president Dana White, about the way he handled his dealings both before and after UFC 217.
“I could’ve lost a lot,” St-Pierre said. “I put my legacy on the line. It was very risky. It was an idea that started first with my coach John Danaher, he said, ‘You’ve been fighting at 170 all of your life, one of your main criticisms was that never went up a weight class. Why don’t you try to take on the champion at 185?’ And I thought it was a great idea to shut down one of the criticisms, and I had a lot of time to put on some weight, and that’s what I did. And I changed my way of training. I tried to make myself more exciting as a fighter, more opportunistic, someone who can finish fights actually, not win a decision. That was my other criticism. I wanted to win by finish, and I believe I answered both of those criticisms at the same time. That’s why this fight, I’m very happy about the result of that fight.
“If I would’ve lost, I would’ve lost big. It was a risk. I took the risk. And (UFC president) Dana (White) maybe is not happy about it, because he doesn’t control me. Maybe he’s used to dealing with people that he controls, but he does not control me. I don’t depend on fighting. I don’t need the UFC to live. I have been there, done that, but I don’t depend on fighting. I have other stuff on the side that has nothing to do with the UFC, and I don’t need to fight for the rest of my life if I don’t want to.”
That being said, while St-Pierre may not need to compete, it’s obvious he still hasn’t closed the door on returning to the UFC for another big fight if the right opportunity arises, whether in 2018 or even farther down the line in the future.
“I can’t fight right now, and things in MMA change very rapidly,” St-Pierre said. “I don’t know. Maybe in a few months a guy will win a title and he’s going to be the new pound-for-pound king, and maybe that will excite me. Who knows?”