Earlier this week during a high profile athletes and celebrities tour of Israel hosted by NBA's Omri Casspi, former UFC welterweight champion George St-Pierre offered a special one-to-one interview discussing his now imminent return to the UFC!
In his usual classy good humor, GSP offers the world answers most UFC fans will appreciate.
Here is our analysis and interpretation based on the full interview as posted on Bloody Elbow:
Everybody's asking the same question for the past few weeks, more actually: Are you coming backBy BloodyElbow.com
GSP: I want to. My agent is negotiating with the UFC, they had an offer, we made a counteroffer, you know that's how business goes. And then we heard a day after that UFC sold for $4 billion dollars. So we waited for a few days, to see what was going on, because even some of the employees were afraid of losing their job - even some of the high ranking people in the UFC were afraid. We wanted to let the management to take care of their own company first, and then see what happens. Now we're talking again and I'm starting the USADA process to be tested, I'm starting it Aug 10. in Las Vegas. Because to be eligible to fight you need to be tested.
From his response and the fact that he's starting the USADA testing process, there's no other conclusion other than GSP IS COMING BACK TO UFC's OCTAGON! From this point on, it's all about when, where and most importantly; who's it going to be against? For the later, the interview covers the question to a certain degree of satisfaction:
Do you have your sights on an opponent? There was a lot of talk about Tyron Woodley, and there was a lot of talk about Michael Bisping-By BloodyElbow.com
And before that I heard a lot of talk about Robbie Lawler-
GSP: The first offer they made us was for Bisping. We were interested in that fight, we made a counter offer, but like I said one day after we heard they sold the company. Bisping was already a world champion. They asked us if we wanted to fight in Toronto, I don't remember if it was the Rogers center or the Air Canada center, but it was to be Bisping. And I said yeah, I'm interested, but you know how negotiations go, they give you a price, they lowball you, you put a higher price, and then we meet somewhere in the middle.
Is Bisping interested?
GSP: I heard he was interested. But I heard also that he was interested to fight Dan Henderson. I understand that. He's a proud athlete, and I'm a proud fighter too. And I have lost fights before, and for me that was important to avenge losses. If you want to be a proud person, then you want to avenge your loss. For me it was Serra and Hughes, and for Michael Bisping, Henderson is one of his losses - one of his most painful losses. So I understand why he wants to avenge it. As an athlete I understand. So that's why that fight did not happen.
This obviously still leaves the "who's it going to be against" question open for interpretation.
The full interview shed light into to the Diaz-McGregor II fight coming up in UFC 202 and the later part of this sequence leaves an interesting door open:
The biggest fight everyone is talking about right now is Diaz-McGregor II, what do you think of that fight, what do you think of McGregor's style in general? And the Diazs, are you still not getting along too well with them - I know you had some rough history.by Author
GSP: I have no problem with Nate. It seems to me to me like it's Nick Diaz that is running for another shot at me. I wouldn't mind, I'm not afraid of Nick Diaz, I'll tell you. I am telling you right now: If it's what the fans want to see, I'm in.
Is Diaz going to be your first fight back in the Octagon?
GSP: I don't care if it's the first, or second, or third. If they want me to fight Nick Diaz it would be my pleasure. I don't mind, I am not afraid of Nick Diaz, I beat him last time, and I'll beat even worse, I'll beat him wayworse next time that I'll fight him.
I beat him last time easily, but I was not happy - It's one of these fights that I'm not happy with. Because I didn't feel like I gave enough, for different reasons. It left me angry that fight, when I look back at it - maybe I won, but for some reason it left me angry and I feel like I could have done so much better.
Did he get in your head a bit? He got into a lot of people's heads.
GSP: He got in people's heads, but everybody knows who's who, who's bringing which set of skills, I have no problem, I'm not afraid of him.
I didn't mean to imply that you are.
GSP: Oh, no no no no - I'm just saying what he saying. He said I'm afraid but I'm not afraid of him.
I think one of the things McGregor did in the sport, he actually made the Diaz's the nice guys, because
he fought a Diaz who looked full of respect by comparison.
GSP: Yeah, the way I see it is McGregor and Nate Diaz are both "bully" fighters, and the worst thing that can happen to a bully is when the tables get turned around and he gets bullied himself. That's what happened to Conor McGregor, that's why he lost that fight. Conor McGregor used to bully people and put people away in the first round because he's such an amazing fighter, and he gets into people's heads. But what happened was, he couldn't put Diaz away because Diaz is very resilient - If I make an analogy it's like Conor McGregor was pacing himself for a 400 meters race. He gave everything, but at the end of this 400 meters race, now somebody was telling him, 'I'm sorry, you're not done yet, you have another 400 meters to do'. And if you didn't pace yourself, if you go all out thinking you're going to arrive at the finish line at 400 meters, now you have another 400 meters - you're done.
There was lot of mental breakdown into that fight, and I think it's a great example of how a Diaz brother can already beat people mentally, and they're very good at it. When I fought Nick I was ready for that.
Who do you think is going to win in their rematch?
GSP: I believe skillwise McGregor is better than Diaz. But I just don't know if he has the same mental resilience of Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz is very experienced - that was a fight that was won because of his experience. I do not see this fight as a set of skills: 'oh, because of his ground game, because of this, because of that'. Conor McGregor is very good on the ground, he swept Nate Diaz in the first fight. I see it as more of a pace and tactical match. Because Conor McGregor is so confident - he goes there 'I'll beat this, I will do that' - If I would be his coach I will tell him all the time, behind closed doors, how dangerous Diaz is and how much of a war this fight will be and how painful, and long, and uncomfortable it would be, and to get prepared for the worst day of his life.
No easy second.
GSP: YES. That's what I would remind my guy if I would be Conor McGregor's coach. Because in public, Conor makes it like it's going to be it's going to be another walk in the park, but I hope he doesn't believe what he's saying. Chances are it might not happen.
This previous part of the interview seems to be some build up to an eventual matchup between GSP and McGreggor which for UFC's would certainly be a historical night!
Here's what GSP had to say about it:
You think there's a chance that you will ever meet McGregor? You say that you can make LW, and obviously that's the biggest money fight.by Author
GSP: McGregor is pretty big, huh? I don't know how he cuts all that weight, it's unbelievable. He's about my size, he walks around I think between 180, 185, I walk around 186, 187, 188. I think he says he walks around at 169 (I was wrong, Chael Sonnen says McGregor told him he's 172 eight days before weigh-in, Diego Sanchez says he rehydrated to 174 for Aldo).
GSP: No that's not true. That's not true. He walks around 180, 185.
I don't think he's coming back to FW.
GSP: I don't see that either. It's very bad for your health, for your organs, at long term. McGregor is a big guy. He's a huge guy - for his weight class, he's huge. I don't understand how some guys cut like that - I mean; I have an idea.
A lot of Parsley?
GSP: I have an idea, but maybe they know something that I don't.
Although there's no commitment or clear answer to this initial question, it certainly leaves us all wondering if the table isn't being set for a soon to be UFC fight between GSP and McGregor. My take on this would be to see what the outcome of UFC 202 is and what weight class each fighter is comfortable with! Until then, one has to admit, things are stirring up nicely for coming UFC events!