Who’s next for Georges St-Pierre?

MMA


UFC legend Georges St-Pierre returned to the Octagon after a four-year layoff in November to defeat Michael Bisping by submission and earn the middleweight belt. Then he promptly left the division. After some speculation of whether he would fight again, he confirmed last week his intentions to continue competing.

Who should he face next?

We asked our panel — ESPN MMA reporter Brett Okamoto, SportsCenter hosts Max Bretos and Phil Murphy, and digital contributor Eric Tamiso — for their take.


Okamoto: Tyron Woodley

From the moment St-Pierre first expressed interest in coming back, that’s the fight I’ve wanted to see. A former welterweight king returns to the division he walked away from on top, to reclaim his throne? In my opinion, it’s the most impressive thing St-Pierre could accomplish.

Now, I understand why that hasn’t happened. St-Pierre saw a middleweight champion ripe for the picking in Michael Bisping, and that was a legacy fight. And now, even though he may not publicly say it, he’d love to take on a lightweight in Conor McGregor — another legacy fight. And that’s fine. If I were St-Pierre, that’s the one I’d be looking at, too. But as a fan of the sport, St-Pierre vs. Woodley is the No. 1 option.

Murphy: Conor McGregor

St-Pierre has admitted openly that he doesn’t care about title contention but prioritizes big-money, legacy fights.

What dollar-generating, legacy-impact fight is greater than standing across the Octagon from Conor McGregor? In fact, of McGregor’s potential opponents, I can’t think of one that would drive more interest and pay-per-view buys than GSP.

GSP was the pound-for-pound king of his era, a world-class athlete with precise, elusive striking, excellent grappling and incredible awareness of the importance of cage fighting’s mental side. Conor is the people’s pound-for-pound king – Octagon absence notwithstanding – who has pinpoint, powerful striking, an outstanding chin and a master of pre-fight psychology.

McGregor is St-Pierre’s perfect complement and foil. And together, they would break every viewership record of note.

Tamiso: Ben Askren

From 2010-2013, GSP and Ben Askren dominated the welterweight divisions in the UFC and Bellator. Despite it being five years on, I’m still sold on this potential fight. Which fighter’s wrestling will reign supreme? Even before the fight, the duo could have a contest to see who upsets Dana White the most.

Bretos: Conor McGregor

Fighting Conor McGregor makes the most sense for all parties. For the UFC this becomes the super fight they have been dreaming of and frankly desperately need.

For McGrgegor, in addition to the draw, he avoids a couple monsters in their prime in Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. No reason to go there now, especially if you can avoid it.

For GSP the reasons are obvious — legacy and the very rare chance for an athlete to exit on top.

When it makes that much sense for that many people, it usually happens…right?





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