UFC 229: Georges St-Pierre on Conor vs. Khabib, facing the winner and if he'll ever return to MMA

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Georges St-Pierre (Getty Images)

Georges St-Pierre has been in plenty of historic fights throughout his illustrious career.

The 37-year-old recaptured the welterweight title from Matt Serra in the UFC’s debut in Canada, competed in the first-ever champion vs. champion bout when he battered BJ Penn at UFC 94, successfully defended his title against Jake Shields in the company’s first stadium show at UFC 129 at Rogers Centre in Toronto in front of 55,724 people and, in his last fight, submitted Michael Bisping to capture the middleweight championship and become only the fifth person in promotional history to win two titles in two different weight classes. 

For all of his accomplishments and being part of some monumental moments inside of the Octagon, St-Pierre believes that what the world is about to see between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former two-division titleholder Conor McGregor at UFC 229 will be the biggest event of them all.

“I think Conor vs. Khabib is the biggest fight in the UFC’s history,” St-Pierre told Sporting News. “It’s going to be a great matchup. It’s a striker versus grappler matchup. Khabib is one guy whose gives an incredible amount of pressure and is an endurance machine. McGregor is a very good fighter who can end the fight with one blow. He’s a very explosive guy. It’s a very interesting matchup. Two very interesting clashes of style. I’m very impatient to see it and it should be an exciting fight.”

When you look at Nurmagomedov and St-Pierre’s styles of fighting, a valid argument can be made they’re complimentary of one another. Nurmogomedov has a smothering grappling prowess that keeps the backs of opponents glued to the canvas. The same can be said of GSP, as the Canadian adopted a similar style of fighting after losing the 170-pound title to Serra at UFC 69.

“Of course you can say that,” St-Pierre said when asked about comparisons to Nurmagomedov. “We’re different fighters and have different types of skills even though we really love fighting and share a great wrestling pedigree. His wrestling abilities are heavily emphasized in the clinch game. Once he’s got his opponent in the clinch against the fence, that’s when he’s very good. But my grappling ability, I use a lot with setups, creativity, in-and-out movement and I close the distance very fast with an explosive entry. It’s a little bit of a different style we have, but I can see the comparison. It’s vey similar, but different in some ways.”

Many have said the winner of McGregor and Nurmagomedov is going to come down to who can implement their preferred method of fighting first. Can McGregor blast the the native of Dagestan with his laser-accurate left hand? Will Nurmagomedov be able to do what’s he’s done to the first 26 opponents of his career and remain undefeated?

“I think that’s the million-dollar question,” St-Pierre explains. “If we knew the answer that would be boring. That’s why this fight is happening and is so intriguing. If I had to put my house on it, I would think Khabib has more of a chance. I think he has more ways to win. I think Conor has one way to win and that’s with his accurate striking. However, if he can’t nail that, Khabib will get him in the clinch and that’s when he’s at his best. It’s going to be interesting. I think it’s 60-40 for Khabib, but I can be wrong as I’ve been wrong many times before.”

Recently, St-Pierre has mentioned a possible move down to 155 pounds if that meant a chance to face the winner of the UFC 229 main event. He told SN that he currently weighs around 182-183 pounds, which is a number lighter than many in the division walk around at, including Nurmagomedov. 

Does that mean St-Pierre is thinking about challenging the winner and attempt to be the first fighter in UFC history to win three titles in three different weight divisions?

“I don’t know,” St-Pierre said. “I need to find a fight for my legacy and money. If Khabib wins, it’s a great legacy because he’s never been beaten before and if you beat Conor, it’s going to be big for my legacy and his name is going to be more relevant. It would then mean a big legacy and big money fight. Two at the same time would be good.” 

St-Pierre hasn’t fought since defeating Bisping at UFC 217 due to suffering from ulcerative colitis which he feels was caused by being ‘a little obsessed about putting on weight’ because Bisping held a significant weight advantage. The UFC offered him a fight with Nate Diaz for UFC 227, but he turned it down because he didn’t believe the risk was worth the reward. At this stage of his MMA journey, St-Pierre is looking for battles to enhance his legacy and deposit some commas into his bank account.

With that said, when it comes down it to it, the all time great feels pretty certain we will see him once again in Octagon doing what he does better than anyone else.

“Yes, I think so, yes,” St-Pierre said.