The last time we saw Georges St-Pierre inside The Octagon the world of MMA was quite different.
Conor McGregor was just getting his feet wet in the UFC. Ronda Rousey had just began her UFC career after making her name under the Strikeforce banner. Jon Jones was on his way to cementing himself as the greatest mixed martial artist the game had ever seen.
My how things change.
Conor McGregor has established himself as the biggest draw in MMA history. Ronda Rousey has achieved greatness and crossover appeal very few female athletes get to enjoy. Jon Jones… well let’s just leave it at that.
The UFC has become a truly global brand with stars coming from Ireland, Korea, Russia and so on. However, in MMA, over any other sport, the reign on top for a fighter is usually not long. With new fighters and styles constantly emerging in what is still a young sport, there seems to be a fairly regular changing of the guard.
Every champ has seemed unbeatable at one time or another but only a handful have actually looked that good for years and years.
Which is why the return of GSP should be celebrated. He may not be the biggest draw but he is arguably the greatest Champion in UFC history. He also represents a key market for the UFC, especially with departure of teammate Rory MacDonald. He is elite in multiple facets of the fight game. He wore the belt with pride. Never failed a drug test and has never had legal troubles.
There is no doubt that he will make the company lots of money upon his return. A bout with McGregor will almost assuredly approach 2 million ppv buys. However, St. Pierre also brings something else to the table: legitimacy. He is still one of the best pound for pound fighters on the earth. The UFC has prided itself on having the best talent in the world, which makes GSP’s return an even easier decision.
There is no downside with GSP’s return to the Octagon. It makes sense from a business and sport perspective. I look forward to watching one of the greats compete again inside the Octagon.