Georges St-Pierre is rapidly approaching the two-year mark since announcing his retirement, but the prospect of one more fight may be too much to resist if Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Justin Gaethje this Saturday at UFC 254.
If Nurmagomedov is victorious against Gaethje, then St-Pierre will immediately emerge as a top contender to meet the undefeated lightweight champion in the octagon.
“I was ready to take this fight three years ago,” says St-Pierre, who cautioned that the UFC will be hesitant to make the fight. “I was all in, but the UFC refused. I don’t think it will be any different now. They want a younger challenger for Khabib.”
The 39-year-old St-Pierre last fought at UFC 217 when he defeated Michael Bisping in convincing fashion to win the middleweight championship, before announcing his retirement in February 2019. He also vacated the UFC welterweight championship in 2013.
“I ran away with the 170-pound [welterweight] title and the 185-pound [middleweight] title,” says St-Pierre. “They certainly don’t me to run off after beating the undefeated champion.”
Despite the rust of being away from the cage, St-Pierre is confident he would match up favorably with Nurmagomedov. He says he has remained passionate about physical fitness and health, even lending his athlete perspective to respiratory protection company O2 Industries, which recently partnered with the UFC, to help create a performance sports respirator for elite competitors.
“I’m still the same level I was, and I even have more knowledge now,” said St-Pierre. “I don’t recuperate as well, that’s one thing that has changed from 29 to 39.
“I feel just as strong and powerful, but the fighter is always the last person to find out when it is time to retire. I am lucky to have great friends, and I’m very aware of what they’re saying to me. If I’m ever about to take a bad decision, they’ll be the first to tell me.”
St-Pierre will also be paying close attention to the Nurmagomedov-Gaethje fight at UFC 254 this Saturday and offered some insight on what each fighter needs to do to put himself in position for victory.
“On paper, Khabib is a good striker, but we know what he wants to accomplish,” says St-Pierre. “He wants to bring his opponent to the floor, overwhelm him with ground-and-pound, and then maybe get a submission hold if the opportunity comes.”
As for Gaethje, St-Pierre says the interim lightweight champion wants a dog fight. “He wants to trade punch for punch, that’s when he is at his best,” he says. “The person to win the fight is most likely the one to control the dance. But these fights don’t always happen the way we think they’ll happen.”
A recent fight that developed in an unexpected fashion was the UFC 253 main event when Israel Adesanya decimated the previously undefeated Paulo Costa in a middleweight championship title bout.
“That was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” says St-Pierre. “I cannot a remember a performance as flawless as that one. That was as close to a perfect fight by Adesanya. It was an amazing display of strategy and skill. He shut down Costa. It was incredible to watch.”
St-Pierre still believes Costa can be an elite fighter atop the middleweight division.
“Anybody can lose at any given moment,” said St-Pierre. “I’ve lost twice, and those losses made me a much better fighter. If you identify your mistakes when you lose, you can grow. That’s what I did. Those losses helped me reach my success, to gain knowledge and win my fights in the future.”
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