Georges St. Pierre’s Octagon return might not be a one-and-done — even if he loses to Michael Bisping at UFC 217.
A little more than a month ago, St. Pierre told the New York Post that he would call it a career if he came up short against “The Count” at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 4.
“If I ever lose, I’m retired, it’s finished for me. I’m one fight away from retirement,” St-Pierre said then. “I don’t plan on losing but if I do, it’s finished.”
However, the Tristar Gym stalwart sounded less certain about those plans during a media conference call on Thursday. Should he lose to Bisping in their middleweight title bout, his next move depends on the nature of that defeat.
“It always depends how [I lose]. I can’t say right now, nothing is for sure, but it depends how; how it happens,” St. Pierre said. “Sometimes you win a fight and you should lose and sometimes you should lose, but you win.
“It depends how it happens and how I feel – it depends on a lot of stuff – but I don’t see myself going away for a long time, so it’s going to be a good night.”
St. Pierre will be return to active competition for the first time since November 2013, when he captured a contentious split-decision victory over Johnny Hendricks at UFC 167. Shortly thereafter, he vacated his welterweight crown to take an indefinite hiatus.
During his time away, St. Pierre reiterated often that the break was necessary because the sport was no longer fun for him — yet he still left the door open for an eventual return.
"You know, when you do something for a long time, you have a lot of pressure. People don't realize how much pressure I have. It's a lot of expectation. You take a lot of risk. You get so nervous because you care about it,” he told the Ottawa Sun in 2014. "There is so much on the line. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. But I want to inform you, that sometimes makes you go a little bit on the edge, you know.
"So I needed to take time off to relax, to feel better and to have fun to do it again if I ever wanted to come back.”
Now, St. Pierre admits that he is enjoying the process once again.
“It’s a lot more fun,” he said. “Of course it’s stressful and it’s hard on my nerves, but when I close my eyes and give myself the choice of would I want to be there or not, yes, I want to. I don’t do it because I have to; I do it because I want to. I’m happier than ever.”
St. Pierre left the UFC in 2013 as arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. He returns as something of a curiosity, not only because of his lengthy absence but because he will be competing in a new weight class. For St. Pierre, the new opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I don’t really have something to prove. I do it because I want to live my life to the fullest. Why would I not want to come back? Fighting Michael Bisping for the middleweight title in Madison Square Garden, this mythical place, I would be a fool to not take this opportunity,” he said.
“A lot of people would want to be in my shoes and they are not. I have an opportunity, something I’m going to do and a memory that I am going to cherish for the rest of my life.”