(Courtesy of Chael Sonnen)
While former two-division UFC champion Georges St-Pierre announced his official retirement on Feb. 21, 2018, the prospect of a fight with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has cast a large shadow over that day.
The former welterweight champion, St-Pierre returned to the Octagon from a near-four-year absence in 2017 to jump up a weight class and immediately take the belt from then-middleweight-titleholder Michal Bisping. Citing health issues, he vacated the belt a short time later and fell back into the shadows.
After St-Pierre felt his condition – ulcerative colitis – was under control, he pursued a bout with Nurmagomedov. UFC president Dana White, however, has been steadfast that he doesn't want to give St-Pierre another immediate title shot in another weight class.
Even St-Pierre understands why White and the UFC brass wouldn't want him to fight for the belt, believing that he would probably again walk away from the sport if he won. The goals of the UFC and those of St-Pierre simply don't align.
"We worked very hard to make (a fight with Nurmagomedov). My agent knock at the door, we ask many times, and the UFC was categorically they don't want to do it. My goal was to be the first to become champ, champ, champ. That's what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it fail. We even tried to go and ask if we can do it at a catch weight and the UFC, they didn't want to do it. They had other plan," St-Pierre recently said in an interview with Chael Sonnen.
"I know Khabib want it. I think the fans love the idea of that fight. In a way, it's a little bit unfair for Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson deserves the title shot. But it's a sport that you need to be selfish and do the best that you can do for yourself. But now it's over, I missed the train. The train is gone," he said, but left the door cracked open just a bit.
"I don't know, but I don't think it will happen."