The reigning UFC lightweight champion considers St-Pierre one of the greatest fighters in MMA history and has wanted to compete against him for several years. St-Pierre, meanwhile, believes a fight with Nurmagomedov is likely the only bait that would convince him to end his retirement and return to the UFC again.
Despite the athletes’ desire to make the fight happen, Dana White has shot down the idea, essentially discounting it could ever happen. Now, it appears the UFC president is changing his tune.
Asked by TMZ about Nurmagomedov’s next opponent following his dominant win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, White immediately pointed toward a long-awaited showdown with former interim champion Tony Ferguson, who’s currently riding a 12-fight winning streak in the 155-pound division.
While Ferguson appears to be the most deserving candidate for a title shot, White added that if the matchup doesn’t happen for whatever reason, he would then consider Nurmagomedov’s request to face St-Pierre.
“Tony Ferguson is the fight that needs to happen,” White said. “We’ve tried to do it four other times, so hopefully we can get it done this time. But that’s the fight that makes sense.
“(The fight with Georges St-Pierre) can happen, too. We’ll see what happens with Tony. Tony’s had opportunities before that he didn’t take, so if he doesn’t, I would be interested in talking about GSP.”
White’s stance on a possible matchup between Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre is in stark contrast to previous statements he’s made regarding the fight.
Even St-Pierre has conceded the matchup is a long shot, saying he understands the UFC’s resistance. In several interviews, he’s said his intention is not to stick around if he faces Nurmagomedov. Win, lose, or draw, he plans to go back into retirement.
That means if St-Pierre drops to lightweight, defeats Nurmagomedov and wins the title, he might just vacate the belt, throwing the 155-pound division into upheaval.
Despite all that, White seems open to the possibility. After all, Nurmagomedov vs. St-Pierre could be one of the most profitable fights in UFC history.