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Who Will Georges St-Pierre Be Facing Now That He's Officially Back In The UFC?

Who Will Georges St-Pierre Be Facing Now That He's Officially Back In The UFC?
By John Balfe
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Georges St-Pierre, the greatest welterweight mixed martial artist to ever lace up a pair of gloves, has announced his long-awaited return to the sport.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour yesterday, GSP stated that he was ending his self-imposed hiatus from mixed martial arts and would return to competition as soon as possible.

I’m ready. My agents, before I came on the show today briefed me. They said, ‘Don’t say this, don’t say that’. They said, ‘We’re in negotiations, blah, blah, blah’. But I’m an emotional guy, and when I get emotional sometimes, I say things that are not necessarily in my best interests, and I try to not go overboard with that.

But the only thing is, I love my sport and I feel like I’m at my best right now. The clock is running. I’m not getting any younger. 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 the time to do it is now.

St-Pierre stepped away from mixed martial arts in November 2013 after defending his welterweight title for a ninth successive time at UFC 167 against Johny Hendricks, vacating the title he won in 2007.

The Canadian never fully stepped away from the sport and maintained a strict training regime and was one of the principal training partners for fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald ahead of his bout with current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler last July.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKXiJsRpYJA

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GSP, now 35, recently conducted a ‘test camp’ to see if his body could still hold up to the rigours of mixed martial arts, as well as if the desire to compete was still there. Both of these tests, apparently, were passed with flying colours.

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Ireland’s Joe Duffy, who trains with St-Pierre at TriStar in Montreal, told Balls.ie last week that GSP is still a hugely important figure in the gym.

I’ve been getting a lot of rounds in with Georges and he’s been helping me a lot, giving me little details about stuff that he felt has really benefitted him. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work with someone of that calibre.

What he’s accomplished is incredible. He’s run through the division pretty much twice. He’s been out for years now and everyone is still talking about him. It says it all really.

Speculation will be rife as to where and when GSP may make his return. New UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping has said recently an interview that he has been approached by St-Pierre’s management team about a potential bout, though this would represent St-Pierre moving up a division – a move he was reluctant to make in his last UFC run.

Of course, current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler will be the name on everyone’s lips when forecasting potential future contests for St-Pierre. Lawler defends his title against Tyron Woodley at UFC 201 next month and the winner of that could conceivably be ready to face St-Pierre at the UFC’s debut event in Madison Square Garden in November.

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Stephen Thompson’s conclusive victory over GSP’s training partner Rory MacDonald last weekend has left ‘Wonderboy’ at the top of the queue for the next title shot at 170lbs and it’s difficult to see St-Pierre leapfrogging Thompson – himself a former training partner of the Canadian’s – for the title shot.

Another potential bout, especially given St-Pierre’s apparent willingness to move up to the 185lb division, would be the long-awaited super-fight with Anderson Silva.

Back when St-Pierre and Silva ruled their respective divisions, a GSP v Silva contest was the biggest fight that could be made in mixed martial art and now the stars may have aligned to finally make that happen. Silva has maintained that he’s not interested in pursuing a title at this stage in his career, while no comeback fight could possibly generate more interest for GSP than 'The Spider'.

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Either way, the return of Georges St-Pierre to the UFC will draw phenomenal numbers on pay-per-view and now that the competitive fire seems to be back in him, GSP will be a match for whoever ends up staring across the cage from him upon his return.

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