Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is set to return to UFC after more than three years away from the octagon. On Wednesday, after weeks of speculation, UFC president Dana White revealed St-Pierre's opponent.
On SportsCenter, White announced thatSt-Pierre will fight middleweight champion Michael Bisping for the title in his return. This positions St-Pierre to potentially win his second UFC belt, which would make him the fourth fighter in UFC history to win a championship in two weight classes.
One of the rumored opponents was Conor McGregor. That would have required a drop to 155 pounds for St-Pierre, who spent his career at 170 pounds.
"Not even close," White said when asked how close he was to making a fight between St-Pierre and McGregor. "Georges said he could make 155 pounds. Let’s be honest, everybody wants a shot at Michael Bisping. They think he is beatable and obviously Georges St-Pierre is no different, so he’s going to step up and try to take his 185-pound title."
St-Pierre's coach Firas Zahabi told Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour that his preferred two opponents were McGregor and Bisping, two fighters in weight classes 30 pounds apart. A potential fight with McGregor in the future has not been ruled out, as McGregor has fought at 170 pounds in the past.
White said there wasn't a date slated for fight because of the numerous hurdles St-Pierre has to clear before he can make his return.
"He has to go through USADA and has to be tested over the next three months. There are a lot of things that have to happen for Georges to come back and then we’ll pick a date," White said.
St-Pierre last fought in 2013, winning a close and controversial split decision to Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. St-Pierre then vacated the title and took time off.
"He wanted to take a break, he wanted to take some time off from the sport," White said. "He has been talking about coming back for a couple of years now, I personally wasn’t a believer. But we got together and had dinner in Las Vegas and got a deal done."
White added: "I’m not a big believer in long layoffs. Even Muhammad Ali after a three-year layoff didn’t look the same, but the Korean Zombie just came back and looked amazing after a three-year layoff, so who knows. Georges St-Pierre is always in shape and takes care of himself physically."