GSP: Odds for fight vs. Khabib ‘incredibly low’

MMA

While a fight with Georges St-Pierre has long been on UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s MMA bucket list, St-Pierre said Thursday that the chances of him returning to the Octagon are “incredibly low.”

“It takes three parties to make a fight,” St-Pierre, who officially announced his retirement from the UFC in February 2019, said in an interview with BT Sport that was published Thursday. “It takes one opponent, one opponent and the organization itself. I don’t know if the organization would want that.”

Nurmagomedov reiterated his desire to fight St-Pierre last week at a news conference for MMA Global, a new promotion with which he is involved.

At the time of his retirement last year, St-Pierre very much wanted to fight Nurmagomedov, and Nurmagomedov has always been open about his desire to fight him. But the UFC was not interested in the fight then.

St-Pierre stepped away from fighting once in 2013 while holding the UFC welterweight title. He came back in 2017 to beat Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title and then relinquished that belt 34 days later in favor of another sabbatical.

St-Pierre said he understands why the UFC would not want him to do the same thing in a third division.

“I run away with the welterweight, I run away with the middleweight,” he said with a laugh. “They surely don’t want me to run with the lightweight.”

Now 39, St-Pierre also admitted it would be very hard for him to get down to Nurmagomedov’s 155-pound division after spending most of his career at 170 pounds and with his last bout being at 185. There are the possibilities of catch weights and Nurmagomedov moving up, of course. But that would depend on the UFC.

On the promotion’s side, UFC president Dana White has warmed up a bit more to the idea compared to early last year. One major thing has changed: the death of Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, in July. Nurmagomedov has said that him fighting St-Pierre was also a dream for his father, and the family considers St-Pierre the best fighter of all time. Nurmagomedov has broached the idea of St-Pierre being his own final career bout.

White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto last month that he would be open to St-Pierre if it were Nurmagomedov’s last fight.

“This guy’s been great to the company, great to the sport. I like Khabib a lot,” White said then. “I would do anything Khabib wanted to do.”

St-Pierre, though, is not so sure. He said he is “tempted” by the current fighters calling him out, which also includes welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. St-Pierre, who was set to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this year before the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the ceremony, is widely considered the best welterweight in UFC history and is second overall in UFC history with 13 title wins.

The Canadian star is on the short list of the greatest fighters ever. And he says he believes Nurmagomedov is on that type of level now.

“Khabib, I believe, is the best fighter on the face of the Earth,” St-Pierre said. “On the face of the planet. He’s the best right now.”

The odds of seeing Khabib vs. St-Pierre some day, though, remain unlikely. St-Pierre says he is still training, still in shape and feels as if he remains at the top of his game. But he also values going out on top. St-Pierre won his last 13 fights.

“I feel I’m at my best,” St-Pierre said. “But the fighter is always the last one to find out when your time is up. I don’t know.”

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