St-Pierre: Khabib only option for Octagon return

MMA

Georges St-Pierre is leaving the door slightly open for a return to UFC — and Khabib Nurmagomedov would be the only opponent he’d consider.

The UFC legend told ESPN on Wednesday that he has “mixed feelings” about an Octagon comeback but would not completely rule it out. If it does happen, St-Pierre said the only foe he would be interested in is Nurmagomedov, the undefeated UFC lightweight champion.

“If I ever come back, I’m not coming back for many fights,” said St-Pierre, the former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion. “If I come back, it would be for one fight. And I need to take, for me, the biggest fish. And the one — for me, I believe — the top guy right now, the name is Khabib. As a fighter, the most exciting thing is to take the guy who seems invincible, unbeatable. He has the aura of invincibility. But it’s also the scariest thing to do.”

St-Pierre, who is considered one of the top two fighters in MMA history, said he goes back and forth about whether he truly wants to fight again. He has not fought since beating Michael Bisping to win the UFC middleweight title at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, 2017.

“When I train, I feel I still get it,” St-Pierre said. “If you would have asked me, ‘Would you like to fight Khabib?’ in the middle of my training session or right after when I’m in the gym and my adrenaline is up, I’d be like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it! I’m excited!’ But then after I take a hot shower, I go eat, hang out, go back home and I’m thinking about all these dramas and stuff, I’m like, ‘Hell no. I’m not going back into that zoo. Oh, no. I’m good where I am.’ So I have a mixed feeling about it.”

Nurmagomedov has expressed interest in fighting St-Pierre for his 30th career fight. Nurmagomedov goes into his title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 at 28-0.

Nurmagomedov vs. St-Pierre was discussed in late 2018 and early 2019, but the bout fell through because UFC wasn’t interested in having St-Pierre fight for a third title when he stepped away from competition on two occasions while holding belts.

In February 2019, St-Pierre formally retired from UFC, taking himself out of the USADA drug testing pool. He would have to be in that pool for six months before competing again.

While St-Pierre, 39, does have interest in a return against Nurmagomedov, he believes UFC will keep its stance. He also is not sure about fighting Nurmagomedov at his 155-pound weight class. St-Pierre fought most of his career at 170 pounds and has never fought at 155 before.

“The chances are very low,” St-Pierre said of the Nurmagomedov fight coming together. “I highly, highly doubt it. It’s not because of Khabib. I believe it’s because of the UFC. We tried two years ago. Two years ago, we were very flexible. We tried everything. And it didn’t work two years ago. I don’t see why it will work now.”

In a July interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC president Dana White seemed more open to a Nurmagomedov vs. St-Pierre fight than ever before, if it were Nurmagomedov’s final bout. Nurmagomedov has talked about retiring after 30 fights in the past.

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

One other obstacle: St-Pierre said he doesn’t want to fight after he turns 40 years old, which happens on May 19.

“[Two] years ago, when I retired, we tried to make the fight happen. I was all-in. I was trying to make the fight happen. And the UFC didn’t want to do it,” St-Pierre said. “Now, two years have passed by. I don’t know if the UFC is gonna change their mind. Even if the UFC wants to make the fight, they change their minds, the stars have to align.”

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