It shouldn’t surprise anyone that in the year we got the return of one superstar from the historic UFC 100 card — Brock Lesnar — we now could potentially get another one announcing his return by the end of the year. Yes, if the numbers align and everything comes together we could potentially see one of the best fighters in MMA history return to the cage in the post-USADA era, former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
The potential return of St-Pierre, now 35 years old, is a total change of the welterweight division landscape. That takes into account the fact that Tyron Woodley has just become the new welterweight champion as well. Even after the division frees itself up with a new champion and the line to the title starts anew with former challengers potentially getting another crack, St-Pierre still could be the next one in line for the belt. Despite almost three years off from MMA, GSP could still be the next welterweight challenger.
That is a weird statement to make. St-Pierre as the challenger after so many years as the champion — with nine title defenses in his second reign — the Canadian could once again be walking to the Octagon first.
Much like bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, GSP never lost his title inside the Octagon. Well, unless you’re a firm believer Johny Hendricks won in St-Pierre’s last fight before retirement.
Maybe St-Pierre doesn’t get a title shot right away. Instead of Woodley, perhaps he gets Conor McGregor if the Irishman can beat Nate Diaz in the pair’s rematch at UFC 202. But, GSP’s return to the welterweight division puts everybody on notice if he can return to his past form. Three years off is a long time away from the Octagon and even if he has been steadily keeping up with training, the division has changed since he last fought. Woodley could potentially be St-Pierre’s toughest test with his power and wrestling combination.
It’s a win-win for everybody involved. We get more fights with one of the greatest fighters of all time and the UFC has a ton of options available to earn the company some money in the process. The Canadian market is starving for a superstar fighter, and the return of the country’s golden boy would fill that need. GSP’s cards were always some of the best-sold cards in the company and in Canada, St-Pierre would only amplify the UFC’s success in any trip up North.
Woodley asked for money fights and this would be the biggest fish of them all if GSP were to make his return. Even fights with other challengers as a warm-up fight could be a huge draw as the king finally returns to his kingdom to reclaim what he never lost.
Finally, this could be big for St-Pierre himself. While the former welterweight kingpin would have nothing prove in a return as his career has been so stellar, wins in this era of the welterweight division would only enhance an impressive resume. People always wonder how past champions would stack up against the current generation and this would help alleviate that with GSP. A small minority will always believe that St-Pierre’s physique and ability came from performance-enhancing drugs and some successful tests would put notion to rest. GSP would finally be fighting in the supposed “clean” era of mixed martial arts — something he pushed for repeatedly in the past.
Beyond Woodley, there are other great match-ups in the welterweight division for St-Pierre. From the refurbished Robbie Lawler, “Wonderboy” Stephen Thompson or grappling ace Demian Maia, there is no shortage of fights to help the Canadian put an exclamation mark on his career. It starts with the contract negotiations and passing the USADA testing, but we could potentially looking at a return of the welterweight great and we should wait with open arms.