- GSP says he will fight again. Who should be his next opponent?
- Should it be Conor McGregor or bust?
- What are the chances an outsider like Ben Askren is brought in?
Last November, after a four-year layoff, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (26-2) returned to the Octagon and submitted Michael Bisping to win the middleweight title in his first career fight at 185 pounds. But the jump up in weight took its toll on GSP. He developed a digestive disease while trying to gain enough weight and, shortly after winning the belt, he vacated it and left the division due to health concerns. Many wondered if we would ever see the Canadian legend fight again.
Well, it appears that rumors of GSP’s demise might have been greatly exaggerated.
In a recent interview with MMAFighting.com, the 36-year-old said he is still being treated for the disease but is no longer suffering from the symptoms. When asked if that meant he was opening the door for a possible UFC return, St-Pierre responded, “I think so … I think I will fight again.”
Georges St-Pierre returning must be music to the UFC’s ears. He has always been a boon for pay-per-view numbers; his fight with Bisping at UFC 217 in Madison Square Garden garnered an estimated 875,000 PPV buys in North America, alone, which was the highest number for the UFC in 2017.
Who would be the perfect opponent for “Rush?” Below, we explore the best options, set the odds they are GSP’s next foe, and estimate the moneyline if the fights were to go down.
Conor “Notorious” McGregor: 2/1
|FIGHTER||SBD’S ESTIMATED MONEYLINE|
GSP’s days of fighting at middleweight are probably over. A return to the welterweight division might be a wise choice but he has never ruled out the idea of dropping down to lightweight either. Ultimately for St-Pierre, it’s all about legacy, not necessarily the money.
“If I come back for legacy, that’s what interests me the most, more than money. Money, yes, it’s good, but if I come back, it will be more for a legacy match, ” GSP added in his MMAFighting interview.
If we are talking legacy fights that also produce a huge amount of dough, there is nothing bigger than McGregor vs. St-Pierre. There is nobody on the roster who could stand across from McGregor (21-3) and drive more interest and pay-per-view buys than GSP.
“Money, yes, it’s good, but if I come back, it will be more for a legacy match.” – Georges St-Pierre
Stylistically, it’s a matchup that also brings a lot of intrigue. The striking alone would be something to behold. Both men bring improved boxing to the table along with a touch of karate. Can McGregor tag GSP with a powerful right cross before St-Pierre changes levels and takes the Irishman down to the canvas?
The biggest obstacle in making this fight is weight. Could GSP actually drop to 155 pounds? Or would this be a way to welcome in a 165-pound division? Given the potential revenue for the UFC, don’t rule out something completely new.
For now, it appears Notorious could face the winner of the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson. But mark my words, GSP vs McGregor needs to happen before it’s too late.
Ben “Funky” Askren: 4/1
|FIGHTER||SBD’S ESTIMATED MONEYLINE|
Hardcore MMA fans would love to see this matchup. There was a time when GSP was dominating the UFC welterweight division and Askren (18-0-1) was doing the same in Bellator and ONE Championship. However, due to Askren’s online outbursts directed at UFC President Dana White, the former Olympic wrestler was essentially blacklisted from competing in the Octagon.
Fast forward to 2018. The 33-year-old American is quasi-retired, but there has been some talk that UFC commentator Joe Rogan has been trying to mediate an agreement between the undefeated Askren and the grudge-holding White. If a deal can be brokered, fans may finally get see the two welterweight legends settle the long debate over who is better.
GSP vs Askren would be a match between two of the best wrestlers to ever compete in MMA. St-Pierre’s boxing is far superior and he would definitely hold the advantage on the feet, but Asken is so good at avoiding damage and getting the fight to the mat and could render the striking game a moot point. It would be a chess match that MMA purists would love to watch.
There is no doubt that the very outspoken Askren could hold up his end of the bargain in selling the fight, and if you were to hold it in the Bell Center in Montreal, it’s a recipe to print money. Askren has already predicted that he will get his shot at GSP, possibly in 2019.
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov: 4/1
|FIGHTER||SBD’S ESTIMATED MONEYLINE|
At UFC 223 Nurmagomedov (25-0) is going to finally face Tony Ferguson for the vacant UFC lightweight title. If Khabib can beat his American rival, he would not only be the champ but he’d remain undefeated. It’s that kind of mystique that could lead to an epic showdown between the Dagestani warrior and the Canadian icon. It’s something Nurmagomedov’s manager says is a big possibility.
The only dagger in this proposed plan is that Conor McGregor might be the guy who gets a crack at the winner between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov next. Although that hasn’t been confirmed, it would make the most sense.
At some point, it would be great to see St-Pierre vs. Nurmagomedov for the same reasons I mentioned with Ben Askren. Khabib is a world-class Sambo champion, he mauls his opponents and delivers violence from the top position better than anyone. His standup is underrated but his speed and strength could give GSP fits. If Khabib can survive the Ferguson fight and potentially McGregor, there is no doubt this would be the fight to make.
Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley: 17/3
This seems like a logical matchup. It would be cool to see a former welterweight king return to the division he vacated years ago and reclaim his throne. Woodley (18-3-1) won the title back at UFC 201, but he hasn’t defended it since his last fight which was at UFC 214 in July of last year.
GSP fighting anyone would bring some pay-per-view caché, but Woodley hasn’t been a great sell throughout his career, which is why this potential matchup falls further down the list. As much as this fight makes sense on paper, it would be difficult to get fans excited about GSP fighting another wrestling robot who hasn’t endeared himself to the fanbase.
In terms of creating a sound game-plan, all St-Pierre would have to do is roll back footage of Tristar teammate Rory MacDonald, who was able to defeat Woodley at UFC 174. Therein lies the blueprint on how to avoid the power shots and pick Woodley apart with his patented jab.
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson: 9/1
Maybe not the sexiest matchup right now, but let’s not underestimate Tony Ferguson (23-3). For a date with GSP, “El Cucuy” would have to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, and potentially a fight with Conor McGregor.
If those things were to happen, hell yeah, let’s see Ferguson vs. St-Pierre. It would be such a great matchup as both men are extremely well rounded. GSP might be able to take Ferguson down, but the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu disciple is so hard to control on the ground and can slap on a submission from anywhere. If St-Pierre was to keep the fight standing, Ferguson has power in both hands to shock the world.
Stop looking past Ferguson, he might be at the bottom of this list now, but he has enough skill to prove his naysayers wrong.