Georges St-Pierre appeared this week on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show and said he will fight again only if it's a major fight at the right time. He wants a big bout to enhance his legacy as arguably the best fighter ever. At this point in his career, he said, money means very little.
Okamoto: Well, he's made it clear there is only one fight that interests him, and that's a lightweight title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. And don't get me wrong: That would be a very interesting fight -- but I cannot get behind that idea. Not when you have Tony Ferguson, winner of 11 in a row, on deck for a title shot. St-Pierre is an all-time great, but this sport cannot snub Ferguson of the next shot. No. Way.
I've said this one million times already, but I guess I'll say it again: The best fight for St-Pierre is welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Now more than ever. Woodley has placed himself in the "best welterweight of all time" conversation. That's a great conversation to build a fight around. If St-Pierre isn't interested, that's fine. He's earned the right to be extremely selective, and of course he shouldn't take a fight he doesn't want. But under the circumstances, I would be very opposed to him jumping the line at 155 pounds.
Helwani: There are only two fights left for St-Pierre at this point, in my opinion: Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tyron Woodley. That's it. I agree with GSP's assessment that the UFC won't be too keen on having him fight for a third belt, only to vacate it if he wins, so why not a 160-pound catchweight fight with Nurmagomedov? What a matchup that would be. No one cares if the belt is on the line or not, anyway. Sign me up for that.
As for Woodley, I'd love to see the fight, but it's clear welterweight is no longer of interest to St-Pierre, and I can't blame him. He's been there, done that.
There isn't a ton left for GSP to do, though, and for the first time since before his Johny Hendricks fight at UFC 167, I felt like St-Pierre walking away for good seems like the best bet.
Wagenheim: There's no fighter I've more enjoyed watching over the years than Georges St-Pierre. If fighting clean matters to you, he's the GOAT. But I'm no longer interested in watching him cherry-pick his legacy. When he came back after four years away from MMA last November to win the middleweight championship, that return happened not coincidentally when the 185-pound belt was around the waist of Michael Bisping, a great matchup for GSP. Now he's strategically looking around the sport for his next steppingstone?
The accomplishment that would set St-Pierre apart would be winning a belt in a third weight class, which would mean challenging lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. But I'm not in favor of GSP leapfrogging Tony Ferguson. (True, I didn't complain when St-Pierre jumped the middleweight queue, but c'mon, Ferguson has earned this title shot more than once.)
It wouldn't be fair, either, for GSP to cut the line ahead of Colby Covington and fight Tyron Woodley, but at least St-Pierre has a track record at welterweight. In fact, it's arguably the greatest welterweight track record of all. And Woodley wouldn't mind the opportunity to make a counterargument.
Neither of these options presents GSP with a fight he would be favored to win, but it still puts a bad taste in my mouth to see him carefully choosing opponents to enhance his résumé when we all know he's not long for the Octagon. The greatest legacies in all of sports grow organically -- an athlete simply defeats all those put in front of him or her along the road to greatness. So I'm not really into this narrative.
P.S. But, yeah, I'll watch whatever fight GSP books.
Tamiso: There are three fights that come to mind in regards to GSP's legacy. The first, Tyron Woodley, helps preserve him as the best welterweight in UFC history. St-Pierre defended the belt nine times before vacating it. Currently at four defenses, Woodley is one shy of tying Matt Hughes' mark for the second most in division history. If GSP were to come back to 170 pounds for the first time in around five and a half years and snap Woodley's streak, he would join Randy Couture as the only fighters to win a title three times in a division.
Or, GSP could fight Ben Askren and stake his claim to being the best welterweight grappler. No title involved here, just bragging rights. This definitely has the least likelihood of happening for a variety of reasons -- looking your way, Dana White -- but the fight does have some legitimate legacy factors to it. You could say GSP has already locked up the title of best UFC welterweight, so why not fight the best guy who never fought inside the Octagon?
The third option, the one he should go for, is fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov. Never mind becoming a three-time welterweight champion, GSP could be the first three-weight champion. Not only that, but Khabib is an undefeated wrecking ball who has lost only one round in 11 UFC fights. Aside from Round 3 against Conor McGregor, no one has given this guy a challenge. After his win at UFC 229 and, ya know, that other stuff that happened, Khabib's profile has only grown. He has legitimate star power, and this fight could do some serious business.
Sandhu: The list of fighters who have won UFC championships in two weight classes is short but distinguished. On that list are Georges St-Pierre and Conor McGregor, both record breakers and two of the biggest draws the sport has ever produced. They're also both still very much at the height of their powers and close enough in weight to fight each other and have it be considered an even contest. If I had the book, I'd do St-Pierre vs. McGregor for a brand-new 165-pound championship, to crown the first three-weight champion in UFC history.
The byproduct would be ushering in a 165-pound division that in my opinion is needed. It fits in perfectly, providing a 10-pound weight differential between flyweight and middleweight. Of course, this would mean a shift in the welterweight division, moving that weight class up to 175 pounds. And to be as fair as possible, I'd give Tyron Woodley the option of fighting the winner at 165 or defending his belt at the new welterweight limit.
Booking this would also not interfere with the contenders vying for the championship at lightweight (Tony Ferguson) or welterweight (Colby Covington).
Controversial? Perhaps. Best for business? 100 percent. I'd take the introduction of a new UFC championship over constantly stripping champions and creating interim titles, which has unfortunately devalued what it means to be a UFC champion in recent years.