The last time Georges St-Pierre appeared in the UFC Octagon in April 2011 and defeated Jake Shields, it looked as if he had cleared out all of the challengers at 170 pounds.
Unfortunately for St-Pierre, a knee injury forced him into surgery and out of the cage for the rest of 2011 and what will end up being most of 2012, as well.
But as the Canadian champion embarks on his return to action in November, he comes back to an entirely new list of contenders at welterweight. Mainstays like Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck are still around, but after they suffered recent losses, St-Pierre will now be greeted by new top ten competitors like Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks.
It's safe to say Georges St-Pierre returns to a whole different world than the one he left a year ago.
“It's a lot of fun. It's like there's a lot of new challenges and I'm very happy to be back. It's like a new thing; it's actually pretty cool,” St-Pierre told MMAWeekly.com recently.
“I feel a lot more motivation right now. It's exciting. Look for bigger and better challenges.”
The first challenge that greets him upon his return is UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in Montreal this November. Condit earned the shot by defeating UFC bad boy Nick Diaz earlier this year.
For most of his career, Condit has been known as a power striker with slick submissions, who loves the knockout blow. But in his fight with Diaz, Condit attacked with precision and employed a strategy that befuddled and confused his opponent for the better part of 25 minutes.
St-Pierre was watching closely and he knows that Condit is more than just a striker with heavy punches and vicious knees. He now knows he's a complete mixed martial artist with a bag full of tricks he can surely unload when they meet at UFC 154.
“He can change, that's why he's so good. He can change the way he fights according to his opponent. That's why he's so good and I know that,” St-Pierre said. “I'm going to take that fight and fight the best I can, and give it all I can.”
In his absence, St-Pierre's name has come up often with the other welterweights in the division. Some have talked about him with respect, others not so much, but it doesn't matter much to the long reigning welterweight champion.
Talk or no talk, St-Pierre is looking forward to gunning for each contender, one by one, until he beats them all.
“I'm going to hit as hard as I can,” said St-Pierre. “Regardless whether they talk bad or not.”
Click here to watch the entire interview with UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre.