Earlier this month, UFC president Dana White announced that a blockbuster fight between Georges St-Pierre and Nate Diaz was in the works for Aug. 4 at UFC 227. Momentum for the matchup even reached a point where betting odds were released and Diaz responded to the rumblings with a very Diaz-like Facebook post accusing St-Pierre of steroid use and accusing White of selling “wolf tickets” to fight fans.
Ultimately, that was the end of it though. The matchup never came to fruition.
However, speaking Wednesday during an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, St-Pierre revealed that discussions of a potential UFC 227 return against Diaz were very much a real thing, and that “GSP” and his team at Tristar actually contemplated the idea.
“I considered it,” St-Pierre said. “And I analyzed it, and I talked with Firas (Zahabi), with my trainer and everybody. We were all on the same page on that, it’s not worth it.
“Nate Diaz is an incredible fighter, very well-rounded. However, if you put yourself in my shoes, there’s nothing good that can come out of it except money, and money is not the only thing drives me. If I beat Nate Diaz decisively, most people will say, ‘Ah, he took an easy fight,’ or whatever. The critics will say, ‘He’s a bully. He fought a smaller guy.’ Maybe he’s not even smaller than me. A lot of 155er guys are bigger than me right now. He’s a big guy. He’s about the same size as me, but because I competed at 170 for most of my career, it will make me look bad. It will make me look like a bully, and this is if I win decisively.
“If I win and it’s like a war, back and forth, people will say, ‘Ah, you suck.’ And if I get beat, oh my God, forget it. For my legacy, it’s the end of the world. All of the work I put in is finished. And I could have a bad day. Something that I discovered during my career is that, being the strongest man in the world, that was my dream when I was young. That’s why I did UFC. I wanted to be the strongest man in the world. And I realized over the years, it did not exist. You cannot be the strongest man in the world. This is an illusion.”
St-Pierre, 37, has been out of action since capturing the UFC middleweight title with a submission win over Michael Bisping last November at UFC 217. Already considered one of the greatest fighters in MMA history and the No. 1 welterweight of all-time, St-Pierre became only the fourth person in UFC history to hold belts in multiple divisions with his defeat of Bisping. Afterward, St-Pierre vacated the middleweight strap, citing complications with colitis that he believed to be the result of his move up to the middleweight division.
Ever since, St-Pierre has kept the door firmly open for another potential return to the Octagon — not in hopes of securing a specific fight or a specific opponent, but in hopes that he’ll come across an opportunity that he simply won’t be able to pass up.
“I don’t have much left,” St-Pierre said. “And for what I have left, I want to make the big fight, the fight that the fans want to see, want to enjoy. I want, personally for me, to achieve something that is unique, that is rare, that maybe has never been attempted before. That would be something that excites me. And I’m not only driven by money. It’s good to have money, we like money, it drives us all, including myself, but it’s not the unique thing that drives me. There needs to be more than money. There needs to be some kind of achievement that comes with that would excite me.
“Satisfaction is a death blow,” St-Pierre continued.
“If you’re satisfied, if you’re a champion and you’re satisfied: Retire, man, because you’re going down. You’re finished. You’re going to get hurt, as an athlete, especially in our game. Everything I do, I go further and further. That’s why I didn’t want to fight Nate Diaz, because if I fight Nate Diaz, it’s been done before. It’s not exciting for me. And I would be going into that fight satisfied, and if I do that, it’s very dangerous. I want to do something like … 155, I never did it before, [getting that] title. Or beating a certain guy that he’s on a freaking rise.”
St-Pierre has spoken in the past about how the opportunity he seeks could come at either the 170 pounds or 155 pounds.
It’s a run at the lightweight strap, though, that appears to check off all the boxes on St-Pierre’s wish list. It’s a challenge that “GSP” has never before attempted, he would become the only fighter in UFC history to win titles in three different weight classes, and the 155-pound division is currently ruled by an undefeated fighter that many people hail as unbeatable: Dagestani wrecking machine Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“It could be Khabib,” St-Pierre acknowledged of his return.
“The thing is with Khabib, he called me out. Physically, now is not a good time for me. I need to wait a little bit. However, I feel the 155 division now, it’s Conor (McGregor), the champion, there’s (Tony) Ferguson but I think Ferguson is out, and there’s other guys too, but those are the two guys: Conor and Khabib. But Khabib now I think is the champion, but he needs to fight maybe Conor to be [the man].”
Over the course of a three-hour conversation, St-Pierre mulled over the possibilities of a potential move to lightweight. “GSP” said that if he does make the drop, he wouldn’t do a test weight cut down to 155 pounds. He noted that many of the current contenders in the division walk around heavier than he does, citing Nurmagomedov and former interim champion Tony Ferguson as examples. However, after reestablishing control of his diet post-Bisping and allowing his body to heal from his colitis, St-Pierre is confident he could make the 155-pound weight limit and be competitive if the opportunity arises.
Of late, St-Pierre said he has been training an average of six days a week, with four of those days generally being two-a-days. He is still feeling some lingering effects from his colitis, however he expects to be fully healthy soon and ready to jump into a fight camp.
“It’s hard to say,” St-Pierre said regarding his timeline. “Maybe a few weeks. Maybe, I think, a few weeks. Maybe one, two, three months max. Maybe, maximum. Maybe less than that. I want to make sure I get past that [colitis], because I feel like if I go back into it [before I’m 100 percent], then it will start all over again, and I don’t want that.
“It was crazy, man. You’re like, what’s happening with me? Am I dying? I don’t want to go back to this. I want to make sure I take care of this stuff.
“When I feel 100 percent, like I don’t feel anything [wrong, then I’ll fight again],” St-Pierre continued. “Sometimes I still feel it. When I’m going to eat, I feel not the cramp, not the pain, but I feel inside there’s something different, but it diminishes every week. Every month, it diminishes. I see a difference.”
Just days removed from his 37th birthday, St-Pierre also acknowledged that he feels the clock of his career ticking. So if no good opportunities arise over the next few years, and the Bisping fight ends up being his last, “GSP” is okay with walking away from MMA with his health and legacy intact.
“Forty years old, I’m a grown man. I’m not going to fight in a freaking cage at 40 years old,” St-Pierre said. “So it has to happen fast. And if it doesn’t happen, I’m happy. I’m happy too.”
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