After a retirement that lasted nearly three years, Georges St. Pierre is ready to return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
While the former welterweight champion’s return is not a done deal, it appears that it is simply a matter of coming to terms with the Las Vegas-based promotion. St. Pierre last competed at UFC 167 in November 2013, where he took a hard-fought split decision over Johny Hendricks in the evening’s main event. A few weeks later, he announced that he would vacate the welterweight title to take an indefinite leave of absence from the sport.
"I'm ready. I'm an emotional guy,” St. Pierre said during an appearance on ”The MMA Hour” on Monday. “My agents, even before I came on the show today, they briefed me. They said, ‘don't say this, don't say that.' They briefed me, they said, ‘we're in negotiations, remember, blah, blah, blah.' Like, yeah, yeah, yeah, don't worry, I'm not a kid. But I'm an emotional guy, and when I get emotional sometimes, I say things that are necessarily in the best of my interests, and I'm trying to not go overboard with that.
"But the only thing is, I love my sport and I still feel I'm at my best right now. The clock is running. I'm not getting any younger,” he continued. “I'm in the peak of my career and if there is a shot, there is another goal, another run, I better do it and do it quick, because it is time to do it now.”
While rumors of a St. Pierre comeback persisted throughout his absence, the Tristar Gym standout only recently went through a trial training came to gauge his standing. According to St. Pierre, the early returns were positive.
"What I did is I did a training camp to see where I'm at," St-Pierre said. "I've been training, but being in shape and being in fighting shape is something different. I did a training to push myself and go back to the highest level of competition. I didn't fight, but I put myself through a training camp and I sparred and everything, and I did it successfully. Now I know for a fact that I could go back and fight, if my management and the UFC get to an agreement.”
Provided that both parties are able to come to terms, “Rush” has already targeted a potential superfight against recently crowned middleweight champion Michael Bisping for his Octagon return.
"There are two things I'm very proud of," St. Pierre said. "There's my title -- my welterweight title that I won -- and there's another record that I hold for the most wins in UFC history. And now I have someone who's challenging me for it in Michael Bisping.”
Bisping’s first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 on June 4 not only gave him 185-pound gold, but it was his 19th win inside the Octagon — tying him with St. Pierre for most in the history of the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Toward the end of his initial UFC tenure, St. Pierre was often linked to a blockbuster middleweight showdown against Anderson Silva. Ultimately, that bout never came to fruition, but it appears as though a matchup with Bisping is exactly the type of fight St. Pierre is seeking. "It's something big," St-Pierre said. "You just gave me the chills thinking about it, because it's not the first time that people have mentioned it. I'm sure Michael, on his side, people have talked to him about it, because he created a lot of buzz. I always said, if I come back, I would come back from something very big. Bisping is the man to beat right now. He beat Silva, he knocked out Rockhold.
"He's the bigger name now. He's the man to beat right now. I always said if I come back, my first fight would be something big that gives me the chills. And he's a bigger name right now. He is the bigger name, the guy who has the spotlight right now. Like I said, the world doesn't turn around me. There are a lot of guys hunting him, but if it's a fight that the UFC wants and the fans want, if it creates a buzz and the money is there, because we're in a business, I'm down for it.”
St. Pierre is regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters of all-time. He left the UFC on a 12-fight winning streak and is 19-2 within the organization overall. The 35-year-old Quebec native owns wins over the likes of Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, B.J. Penn, Jake Shields, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, to name a few.