It’s been nearly a year since Georges St-Pierre last fought, and until he makes it officially official, he’ll be dogged with questions on when he’ll return.
Today, St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) said he could see himself returning in 2019 – and even early 2019 if his health plays nicely. But the biggest factor keeping him away seems to be fights that motivate him.
Right now, while admitting he doesn’t want to make a list of callouts, he thinks UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) sure sounds like an interesting potential fight to get him back, even if he knows it might not be realistic.
“It’s a big chance (I’ll fight in 2019),” St-Pierre today said on ESPN’s “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.” “Sometimes I feel like I want to fight – I’m very excited to fight. And other times, I feel like, ‘(Expletive), man, what do I have to gain?’ The competitor inside me always wants to fight. I know I’m capable. It’s not that I can’t. I’m in my prime right now. But sometimes I’m thinking the motivation is not the same as it used to be.
“I don’t have the motivation to go through the lineup again and fight my way up to another title. I’m done with this. I’ve done it for so many years. You reach a point in your career you want to do things different.”
Bisping, who for years was the most dominant welterweight in the world, returned from a four-year layoff in November 2017 and challenged Michael Bisping for the middleweight title. He won the belt, but then vacated it in part due to a diagnosis with ulcerative colitis.
A fight with Nurmagomedov might lead to the same predicament, St-Pierre fears – that if he won the belt, the UFC would think he’d just ditch it again and leave the promotion needing to find another new champion. But Bisping said he thinks he could make the lightweight limit, even though he’s never attempted it.
Nurmagomedov just retained the lightweight title with a fourth-round submission of Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) at UFC 229 earlier this month. The aftermath of that win has been way more newsworthy than Nurmagomedov’s win, though, thanks to the post-fight brawl that has both fighters potentially in the doghouse.
“I know Khabib has impressed the desire to fight me before the (McGregor) fight,” St-Pierre said. “Before the fight, there were a lot of contenders. … I don’t think the UFC would want me to fight for a title at 155. They don’t want me to run off into the sunset again with a title if that happened. I don’t think it will happen.
“… I always said the thing that excites me the most is when I can be the first to do something. When something can’t be done, and people doubt me … he’s a great champion. In terms of legacy, I can’t think of a better man and fighter right now with a better legacy than Khabib.”
But one thing St-Pierre says he knows for sure is that he doesn’t want to come back and be just another fighter trying to build his way to a title shot. It seems to be go big, or stay home.
“That’s why this fight with Bisping was different – it was a superfight,” he said. “For me, that’s what I look for – it’s more like a superfight if I ever fight. I don’t want to go back into another mix where I’m like five fights away from a big fight. I don’t mind fighting guys like a novelty fight – big fights, great legacy. But (I don’t want to) go back as a contender and defend (a title) again and again and again. I won’t lie – I’m not motivated for that anymore. I could lie and pretend I am, but I am not.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.