Former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre smiles when he thinks about a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. But it takes three to tango, and he believes one party doesn’t want to dance.
Speaking to BT Sport, St-Pierre called the chances of another return to the octagon “incredibly low” given the likely outcome of another title win: retirement.
“It’s tempting, and I still train hard,” he said. “Now, it’s COVID, so it’s illegal to train combat sports here. I train hard, and I feel I’m at my best. But the fighter is always the last one to find out when your time is up. I don’t know.
“It takes three parties to make a fight: It takes one opponent, another opponent, and the organization. And I don’t know if the organization would want that. I run away with welterweight, I run away with the middleweight. They surely don’t want me to run away with the lightweight. And I’m 39 years old. I don’t think I could go to 155 [pounds] without my performance being compromised.”
Nurmagomedov, who next defends the belt in a title unifier opposite interim champ Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, has repeatedly called for a showdown with St-Pierre. The lightweight champ’s team has identified St-Pierre as an opponent that might seal his legacy as the undefeated and undisputed best in MMA history. But from the start, there have been roadblocks to evade. First and foremost, a promoter.
UFC President Dana White wasn’t thrilled when St-Pierre retired after capturing the middleweight belt from now-former champ Michael Bisping, breaking a promise to defend the title when a case of colitis forced the Quebecois’ hand. And so when Nurmagomedov pitched a superfight, the UFC executive quickly shot it down.
Recently, White indicated he might be softening his stance on the issue. The death of Nurmagomedov’s father seemed to stir some empathy in the fight promoter, who said he would give the champ as much time as needed to recover from his loss. As it turned out, that wasn’t long. But as a tribute to Nurmagomedov, White said he would entertain the idea of a fight with GSP.
St-Pierre might not have gotten that memo, or he might surmise the apparent show of goodwill wasn’t serious. But that’s not the only roadblock to the fight, he said. A cut to 155 pounds just might not be possible.
“Khabib is fighting at 155, but I believe he’s heavier than me,” St-Pierre explained. “He walks around at a heavier weight. He’s younger than me, so he can fluctuate weight better. I’ve never been a fan of cutting weight, so I never did it. I mean, I lost weight, but I didn’t lose much weight compared to most of the guys. I’m afraid of the long-term consequences. And physically, I’m very fit. I don’t have a lot of water retention and fat when I’m around at my walking around weight.”
St-Pierre believes Nurmagomedov walks around at 185 pounds, while he’s never been over 200 during his UFC career. He might be even leaner now that he ascribes to a diet that helps him counteract the effects of colitis, which he believes he may have beat through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
“I might go have another test to see if I still have colitis, because once you have it, you’re stuck for life,” St-Pierre said. “But I don’t feel any symptoms any more. I’m medication free, and I don’t need anything.”
So maybe weight isn’t as big of a roadblock. Right now, St-Pierre can occupy himself with a variety of projects, so he professes not to need fighting. The idea of it makes him smile. The reality of it brings a shrug.