Q: Among the possible opponents for GSP, which opponent fits these three criteria:
(a) The Biggest Money Fight
(b) The Most Relevant Fight for GSP and championships in UFC
(c) The Most Intriguing among newer top fighters who haven’t faced GSP before
ROBERT VALLEJOS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
At the risk of sounding like an extremist, I would suggest that a fight against Conor McGregor would be both profitable and feasible. Obviously, anything McGregor does makes a ton of money. A pairing with a fellow mega-draw makes a lot of sense. With McGregor’s apparent title defense exemption, I’m sure he could easily fight at welterweight again, not to mention the intrigue that McGregor created when he (accurately) criticized GSP for his role in the MMAAA.
As for the most relevant fight, this depends on timing, but if Demian Maia remains in championship limbo, a fight against GSP might be a good consolation prize. Additionally, the winner could have a decent claim at the belt.
The most intriguing fight among newer top fighters who haven’t faced GSP before? Although he is not exactly a young guy, a GSP fight against Stephen Thompson could be very interesting. Both men have a very unique striking style due to their respective karate backgrounds. I could be a dangerous fight for GSP, but the ways that he would try to neutralize the fury of Thompson would be fascinating.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
The biggest money fight would probably be Anderson Silva. Maybe UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping, but there’s absolutely no reason to hold a division up for GSP’s return fight. Maybe Nick Diaz would be a choice? Or Nate Diaz? Those are known commodities. Anderson Silva’s not nearly what he used to be, but still, there’s some name value there. A relevant and intriguing fight would be with Robbie Lawler or Demian Maia. We don’t know what level GSP will be at coming back, and either of those fights would be huge tests. I wouldn’t give him an immediate title shot, but if he came in and beat either Lawler or Maia, I’d give him the next one.
BRANDON SLOAN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
With the long awaited return of GSP upon us, the question becomes who does he fight? Well, with the recent four billion dollar sell of the UFC, the company is desperate for superstars and big money fights. And with the promotion’s biggest star Conor McGregor currently in limbo with Floyd Mayweather and the Lightweight Division, St. Pierre’s return couldn’t have come at a better time.
Obviously, the biggest possible “money fight” would be between GSP and the notorious Conor McGregor. Conor brings an entire country with him to the fight and is the biggest PPV draw in MMA history. But again, he has a plate full of other options and priorities at the moment, so we will put that speculation to rest right away.
Another giant pay day would be a rematch with Nick Diaz. With these two, the storyline is already in place. For years the eldest Diaz brother has been hyper critical of GSP. From the alleged PED use, to being scared to fight, Nick and his 209 fanbase have been wanting a rematch for quite some time. But being that they have already danced, this fight does not fit the criteria. Also it seems like George feels he deserves a title shot or a fight that has more relevance within the UFC rankings. That brings us to my next scenario. This one would answer the age old question who was the greatest champion of all time? George “Rush” St. Pierre or Anderson “Spider” Silva.
Five years ago these two were on top of the MMA world. Fast-forward to the now and Father Time is knocking on the door. Although they are both past their primes, a superfight between the two would be a great main event that would be a nice payday for both parties and of course it would be a fan favorite. But again I feel the relevance of that superfight wouldn’t satisfy the ultra competitive George “Rush” St. Pierre.
GSP has always been one of the game’s greatest competitors. Fascinated not by “Big Money Fights,” but by UFC gold he has always wanted to be on top and stay on top. Therefore I think he wants a fight that will leap him back into UFC ranks and in the title picture. That being said I don’t think St. Pierre’s title shot comes from the Welterweight Division. Woodley and Wonderboy are set for a re-do and, to me, it would be absolutely criminal to not give the winner of that fight to Damien Maia. This brings me to my final solution. This fighter, although not a “newer fighter,” brings enough following for a big payday. He has never fought George and his relevancy to the title picture couldn’t be higher. My final pick for the return of GSP is…
Middleweight Champion of the World Micheal “The Count” Bisping. Yes, an immediate title shot! This fight makes perfect sense. Now that Bisping is champion, he seems slightly reluctant to get into the ring with the two very deserving world beaters Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza. Not only are those to not big paydays, they are also far more athletic and explosive than Bisping. So a fight with the big draw GSP would be exactly what the British Champion Fancies and, frankly, I think it would be a great fight. St. Pierre’s wrestling is a mismatch for most fighters and especially for Bisping. But the champion’s size and experience could counter that. Also, Bisping is at the peak of his career whereas GSP hasn’t fought since he went to war with Johny Hendricks – a fight that eventually sent him into a three year retirement.
Overall, I feel there are plenty of exciting fights for GSP. And the return of “Rush” couldn’t have came at a better time. So only time will tell which lucky fighter lands the big payday and gets to welcome a legend back to the Octagon.
NOW CHECK OUT PART ONE ON THIS TOPIC: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1): Among possible GSP opponents, who provides biggest money fight, most relevant title ranking fight, most intriguing younger fighter?