With multiple pay-per-view stars unavailable at the present moment, the timing is perfect for George St-Pierre to make his long-awaited return.
The announcement of GSP’s homecoming was made on ESPN SportsCentre by UFC president Dana White. It was revealed during that appearance St-Pierre will challenge middleweight champion, Michael Bisping in his first assignment in over 3 years. The fight announcement press conference took place a week later on the night before UFC 209.
The exact date is yet to be decided, Dana White stated, “I’m hoping and aiming for probably in July, in a perfect world I would love to see this fight happen on international fight week”. George St-Pierre in a recent interview confirmed it would be more likely to take place in September or October.
This won’t be the first time GSP has had a leave of absence, after the fight with Jake Shields he suffered an ACL tear which kept GSP sidelined for 18 months. After the injury, St-Pierre faced Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz & Johnny Hendricks in a period of a year before taking some time away from the sport. The Nick Diaz fight was a pretty routine title defence however, St-Pierre was badly hurt and nearly finished against Condit and the Hendricks fight ended in a razor-thin split decision going the way of GSP.
For a fighter that was so dominant in his time as champion at one point winning 33 rounds consecutively, the two fights with Condit & Hendricks were enough evidence to suggest the welterweight division was starting to close the chasm in skill between the champion and the rest of the division.
We recently witnessed how much the landscape of MMA can change in such a small time frame. Ronda Rousey after suffering the first defeat of her career took a year off, she was taken out convincingly by Amanda Nunes on her arrival.
Not only does GSP need to prepare for the recent growth in men’s MMA his job is made even more difficult considering the fact he’s fighting at 185lbs for the first time in his career. As it stands St-Pierre is a name that has to be included when debating the greatest fighter of all time. If he is triumphant upon his return adding a middleweight title and 2-3 big names to his resume he will further cement his argument of being the greatest mixed martial artist ever, on the flip side it’s a sizeable risk to take at the current stage of his career.
The success of St-Pierre depends mostly upon how much his game has evolved in his time off from the sport, revealing that he feels better than ever it’s clear GSP is aware of the need to improve himself in order to hang with the current roster. The gamble in this endeavour is everything the Tristar camp has worked on must come together at the first time of asking because GSP has put himself straight into the firing line by choosing a tough fight. With his Legacy hanging in the balance, the doubt’s surrounding St-Pierre’s return will only be dismissed when the cage door closes & the fight begins.