Georges St-Pierre opened the door for a UFC return on Monday, revealing on The MMA Hour that although he is still overcoming his ulcerative colitis, he is not ruling out an eventual Octagon comeback at either lightweight or welterweight once his condition stabilizes “for a longer period of time.” St-Pierre, the greatest 170-pound fighter in MMA history, said he has lost significant weight during his recovery since UFC 217 and is now walking around anywhere at from 180 to 185 pounds.
The obvious question then is: Once he is completely healthy, who would St-Pierre be interested in fighting for his UFC return?
Over the course of a wide-ranging conversation, St-Pierre discussed a handful of names who have been linked to him by armchair matchmakers and in the online rumor mill. St-Pierre declined to pinpoint one fight in particular that interested him, although he made it clear that if he does compete again, the chance to bolster his legacy is the most important selling point that would sway him towards an opponent. And he began the conversation by addressing two names: Nate Diaz and UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
“The fight with Nate Diaz doesn’t really interest me, because I beat Nick Diaz,” St-Pierre told host Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour. “And logically, it’s not a risk worth taking for me, because if I beat Nate Diaz, it’s like normal for me. You know what I mean? It’s like, people expect me to win. But if I lose, I lose a big part of my legacy, I lose my name. I think it’s not worth it for me. Logically, it’s not worth it.
“Tyron Woodley, in the beginning — before — I wanted to fight Tyron Woodley. A few years ago, I wanted to fight Tyron Woodley. We even texted each other. However the idea of coming back at 185 was put in my head, and then I thought it made more sense, so that’s why I chose to go at 185. Because I fought at 170 all of my life, and if I put my legacy against someone, it needs to be something great. Something that, the guy needs to be accomplishing something special. If I put my legacy at risk, I want it to be worth it. If I fight against a guy who fights at 170 — Tyron is a great champion, but I feel like he fought ‘Wonderboy,’ he won the fight, but his last fights were not fights that made history. He won the fights, it was great, but it feels like it was not like a special fight.”
St-Pierre, 36, echoed similar sentiments when asked about Diaz’s older brother, Nick Diaz, who St-Pierre soundly defeated via unanimous decision in 2013.
St-Pierre said it would be “illogical” to rematch Diaz right now, as Diaz has only competed once in the five years since their UFC 158 meeting and initially lost that lone fight — against Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in 2015 — before it was subsequently overturned into a no contest. Diaz has chosen to stay on the sidelines ever since, despite the UFC’s occasional offers for a high-profile return, and that’s soured St-Pierre on the idea of a second fight.
“I see some guys that have opportunities to do great stuff and they don’t take it,” St-Pierre said. “I’ve seen through the internet, Nick Diaz, they offered a fight, I think, for the title.
“For me, fighting Nick now, I have nothing to gain, because I beat him. He lost many of his last fights. It’s not worth it for me. And he’s a pain in the ass. You fight a guy like this, he’s a very skilled fighter, he’s a big pain in the butt, and it would be a risk not to take for me. It would be stupid for me to go fight him. ... However, from his side, if he comes back and he achieves something great, like, I don’t know, a title or whatever, now it makes more sense.”
Not surprisingly, St-Pierre also addressed the one fight that both his coaches and the MMA community at large have been discussing since “GSP” first announced his intentions to return in 2016: A blockbuster meeting against UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
St-Pierre and McGregor are two of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the history of the sport, and the pairing would likely make for one of the highest-selling fights in UFC history.
But for St-Pierre, money isn’t the driving factor behind his decision.
“The thing is, Conor McGregor, money-wise, I believe is the one that can put the most money on the table,” St-Pierre said. “However, I think legacy-wise, I don’t think he’s the guy that legacy-wise (helps me much).
“I mean, money-wise, for people who are not huge fans of MMA, they know who Conor McGregor is. He’s the main guy. He’s the guy who brought the sport to a different level. He’s, I would say, the most charismatic guy. He sells, the biggest seller in the sport. But talk about legacy. If I come back for legacy, that’s what interests me the most, more than the money. Money, yes, it’s good, but if I come back, it would be more for a legacy match.”
To end the conversation, St-Pierre was asked about Ben Askren, the one man outside of the UFC who has long called for a chance to prove himself against the welterweight legend.
Askren, a dominant former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder, announced his retirement from MMA last year after compiling an undefeated 18-0 record. At the time, however, Askren said the one thing that could coax him out of retirement would be a chance to prove himself as the unquestioned best welterweight in the world. Askren has since campaigned vigorously on social media for a fight against St-Pierre.
Although St-Pierre stopped short of saying the matchup would interest him, he did throw his support behind Askren getting a chance to prove himself in the UFC.
“Ben Askren, I don’t understand why he’s not in UFC, because he’s one of the best welterweights in the world,” St-Pierre said. “I think it has to do with maybe a problem that he has with Dana White, but he’s one of the best fighters in the world. And if there’s a guy that in my career, for my legacy, that would have been good to fight, it would have been Ben Askren, because he beat everybody. He beat all the guys in Bellator. He beat all the champions outside of the UFC. But unfortunately, I think he had a fallout with Dana and he never had the chance to fight in the UFC. And therefore, his stock never went to the value that it’s supposed to be at.
“He’s a guy who’s extremely, extremely talented, a very dangerous guy, but nobody knows who he is because he’s never been exposed to the public. But he’s very good. In order to have a fight with me, I would have liked him to be exposed to the public so his stock goes up, so if I fight him, at least it’s a win-win situation. Otherwise you fight a guy who’s extremely dangerous who nobody cares about, who nobody knows who he is. It’s sad, but that’s the real way to look at it. And the reason why I’m saying that in your interview now is because I want people to be aware of who he is, I want him to have a chance to fight in the UFC, to go fight against the big dogs, the big boys of the sport, and I think he’s in certainly the top five, maybe the top three in the welterweight division.”
St-Pierre was then asked if Askren could interest him as an opponent if the UFC changed its mind and signed the undefeated wrestler.
“It’s not a fight that would interest me now because nobody knows who he is,” St-Pierre said. “Nobody knows who he is, but if they would have given him the chance to fight, to show his skill in the UFC, I’m sure he would have.
“In a hypothetical way, maybe he would’ve lost, but I believe he would have beaten a lot of good guys and his name would be up there, yes.”