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Unlike his first sabbatical from mixed martial arts, former UFC two-division champion Georges St-Pierre made his latest retirement official. Now, however, he says, "The word retirement doesn't mean anything right now," particularly if the stars align and he lands a fight with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
St-Pierre returned from a four-year hiatus to take the UFC middleweight champion from Michael Bisping at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, 2017. That was to be the first of a four-fight deal that his management renegotiated upon his return. A few weeks after winning the belt, St-Pierre withdrew from his promise to UFC president Dana White to defend the belt, leaving it vacant.
Earlier this year, on Feb. 21, St-Pierre announced his retirement, something he never did during that first four-year trip to the sidelines.
Despite officially walking away, he has been hesitant to say never, when questioned about a return to the Octagon. St-Pierre doesn't want to return and dominate a division the way he once did the welterweight ranks. He now only wants huge opportunities that earn big bucks and add to his legacy as a fighter.
The one name that constantly appears at the top of the list is not Conor McGregor, but Khabib Nurmagomedov. Initially, White was adamant that such a bout would not be made. But as time passes, he has softened his stance.
“Tony Ferguson is the fight that needs to happen,” White said in comments to TMZ Sports in September. “We’ve tried to do it four other times, so hopefully we can get it done this time. But that’s the fight that makes sense.
“(St-Pierre) can happen, too,” he added. “We’ll see what happens with Tony. Tony’s had opportunities before that he didn’t take, so if he doesn’t, then I would be interested in talking about GSP.”
That's not to say that St-Pierre would be a last-minute stand-in. St-Pierre is well beyond ever taking the fight that way. He's very clear that for the fight with Nurmagedov to happen, the stars are going to have to align perfectly. But he hasn't locked the cage door just yet.