The Octagon return of former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre wasn’t something that came together quickly. UFC president Dana White confirmed that St-Pierre had signed a contract to fight again on Feb. 17, but rumblings of the return of “Rush” had been ongoing for quite some time.
St-Pierre walked away from the sport following his UFC 167 win over Johny Hendricks in November 2013. It was his ninth consecutive successful title defense. St-Pierre had been publicly talking about a possible return to competition since April 2016. At one point, he declared himself a free agent. A deal was nearly reached for St-Pierre to headline the UFC 206 fight card in December, but negotiations deteriorated.
While a deal couldn’t be reached for St-Pierre to headline a pay-per-view in his Canadian homeland in December, the opponent that he would have faced remained intact. On March 1, White announced that St-Pierre would face middleweight champion Michael Bisping when he steps back in the cage for the first time since November 2013.
“At the time that this deal was made, when me and his guys were doing this deal, we wanted him to come back. We wanted to announce it. We wanted a title fight, and Bisping was the only guy available at the time,” White said during a press conference in Las Vegas.
“How am I going to bring Georges St-Pierre back unless I have an absolute, positive fight for him? Bisping was ready. Bisping wanted the fight, so it was the fight to make,” added the UFC president.
With St-Pierre fighting for the middleweight title, there are questions about what happens if he wins: Will he defend the belt? Will he return to the welterweight division and try to hold two titles concurrently?
“We’ve talked about that,” said White. “Georges said that he has plans. He’s just not saying them here today. It’s not like we went into this 185-pound championship going, ‘oh well, let’s see what happens.’
“Obviously, if Bisping wins, Bisping said that he would turn right around and fight Yoel Romero. If Georges wins, he has a plan. He’s just not willing to tell you guys what it is right now. But he is willing to do many things,” White continued.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t be here today, and I wouldn’t be in this position right now not knowing what Georges St-Pierre wants to do.”