Roundtable: Will (and should) GSP return to the UFC?

USA TODAY Sports

The Bloody Elbow staff pulls up their chairs and mulls over whether or not Georges St-Pierre will ever return to the Octagon.

Former UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre renounced his title and walked away from the sport following a narrow split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Should he decide to return to MMA, his contract will likely preclude him from fighting anywhere else but in the Octagon, despite the ugly war of words between him and the UFC brass since the split.

We asked the BE staff to discuss. Here goes:

KJ Gould: I don't think he should return for various reasons like legacy, his mental and physical health and so on. I think the only reason he may want to return is not being satisfied with how the Hendricks fight went competitively and wanting to close that chapter of his career. UFC would have to throw a ridiculous amount of money and provisions his way to come back otherwise in my opinion.

Anton Tabuena: I think he should only return if they can book that long overdue super fight against Anderson Silva. If they can't, there's not much reason for either guy to come back unless they're hurting for cash, which I hope isn't the case.

TP Grant: St. Pierre of all the champions, seemed the most willing, ready and able to walk away from MMA. His legacy is pretty firmly entrenched, his body is not a wrecked shell of itself, and I've not heard of extravagant spending or finical woes, so it seems the perfect time for him to retire. He will have some opportunities in show business, especially if he is well received in Captain America. He could make some decent coin on the seminar circuit, I know plenty of BJJ students who would turn out for a takedown seminar taught by one of the greatest UFC Champions of all time.

So unless the UFC can tempt him with something that will push his legacy, and pocketbook, over the top, like the Silva super fight in Cowboy Stadium, I think GSP would be better served to stay retired.

John S. Nash: George will be back... If the UFC pays him enough. And the way they've been handling it leads me to believe they'll be paying him a lot.

I think GSP is being genuine when he criticizes the UFC. He's probably been frustrated for years with his dealings with them and retirement has given him the freedom to speak. But his comments also given him more leverage. Not only is a returning St-Pierre a guaranteed 1 mil ppv seller in a promotion with few guarantee ppv draws, but even more importantly, he's the key to Canada, their 2nd or 3rd biggest market. With Dana's comments getting nothing but negative press north of the border, the UFC is looking at the possibility that they've tarnished their good name with the casual fans. Bringing Rush back would go a long way to quelling the outrage and winning them back. That won't come cheap.

I expect George back late this year or early 2015 with a new contract that guarantees VADA testing and $10 or more per ppv buy.

Fraser Coffeen: He'll be back. Like John said, it's going to take some serious cash to get him back, but in the end, they'll do it. Why? Because they need him. This coming time in UFC has the potential to be kind of rough. No GSP, no Silva... no really serious draws. Jones and Rousey are the company's biggest potential moneymakers right now, but I don't think that's enough. Dana and company have shown that, when push comes to shove, they are willing to work with the people they need to work with (Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, BJ Penn). True, they didn't do it with Fedor, but those were extravagant demands, plus Fedor never was a UFC guy in the first place, so it's not quite the same.

When PPV buys drop, Dana will come knocking, and in the end, I see GSP giving in.

Tim Burke: I think he's done. It's time to go back to school and get apaleontology degree and go find those dinosaurs. I'm not even kidding, I actually think that's what he's going to do.

Iain Kidd: I think he'll be back, maybe not this year, but probably next year. He'll miss the competition, want to test himself again, and Dana will offer him some high 7/low 8 figure to come back and headline a supershow. GSP will realize if he takes two of those fights, he can probably pay for 24/7 protection from the aliens and will do it for peace of mind.

Trent Reinsmith: I hope he doesn’t come back. There’s no need for him to do so, and the way he is being treated by Dana White in his semi-retirement can’t leave him chomping at the bit to return. I would imagine Sportsnet would be happy to throw some cash his way to work on their broadcasts of UFC events in Canada.

I also have to imagine that he missed a great deal of "normal life" while he was fighting. St-Pierre seemed to go all in with his MMA career, pushing everything else to the side. Now that he has stepped out of that "all MMA, all the time" mindset he may find it hard to return there, or he may wonder if it is all worth it to return there for a short period of time. After all, he is 32-years old with more than 10 years invested in the sport.

With that being said, I expect the UFC will back a truckload of cash up to his condo door at some point in the not so distant future. If that does convince him to return I hope that he forces the UFC’s hand when it comes to expanded drug testing.

Stephanie Daniels: If he comes back, and I think he will, it's going to be a one off thing, and it's going to be for a lot of money. I think it will be for a superfight, or a straight up title shot, because those are the only two things that his pride and good sense would allow for. It would be amazing if he came back to fight for the title, won it, and left again. I'm of the twisted mind variety, so that would amuse me to no end.

While the two situations are very different, I'm reminded of the mess Randy Couture was in with the UFC back in late 2007-2008. So much mudslinging was happening, yet despite it all, a deal was made, Randy came back, won a title, fought against a boxing legend, retired again; of course the UFC missed the bus and shot themselves in the foot once again by not treating him a little better and keeping him within the confines of the UFC, much like they did with Chuck and Hughes.

Mookie Alexander: There's nothing for GSP left to accomplish. He's the greatest welterweight the sport has ever seen and at least one of the 5 best to ever compete in MMA (whatever your ranking of GSP/Silva/Fedor/Aldo/Krylov may be). It's pretty evident that he's physically declining and is unable to take even the most decorated wrestlers down with ease. He's absorbed more punishment in his fights with Condit and Hendricks than any other fight I can recall during his post-Serra loss dominance.

GSP vs. Silva has sailed and I really don't want to see it now. I think his fight against Johny Hendricks was the last we've seen of Georges St-Pierre inside any MMA cage or ring. It's sad to say as a fan of the guy for years, but I don't believe he wants to come back and even if he does he'll be a shell of his former self. That's not to say he'd be a "shot" fighter and start struggling with Court McGee, but he's no longer dominant and he'll hang up the gloves for good.

David Castillo: Two things that would have to happen in order for this to come to fruition: the right opponent, and the right conditions. For example let's say that by some stroke of luck that Nick Diaz loosens his tinfoil hat, smokes weed only sparingly, unretires and becomes the UFC WW champ. In this bizarre situation that I think could be possible given the matchups that exist for him right now, not a chance.

What if Rory Mac is champ? Again, not happening. I don't think GSP would be all that interested in a Condit rematch. And a fight with Robbie Lawler wouldn't intrigue him in my opinion. This leaves the fight with Johny Hendricks.

GSP is a competitive, driven, sincere guy. If Hendricks is champ he'd probably long for revenge (even though I feel like this fight is Shogun/Machida 1 over all again: not near as egregious as people think, with Hendricks thinking his work was done in the final round of a championship fight). He'd want to silence the doubters and also experience some reconciliation by asking the UFC to back this time with respect to proper testing (again, the 'right conditions').

Call me a stupid kentucky fried optimist if you must, but I think Dana and the UFC giving GSP the right conditions with respect to drug testing is possible. After all, before GSP's potential return, the UFC will have dealt with what should be a shitstorm regarding Vitor Belfort's TRT situation.

Maybe they'll want to look responsible, so one title fight with some transparency gives them the crutch to fall back on whenever someone in the media brings up drug testing.

Zane Simon: There really aren't any fights out there that make sense for St. Pierre at this point. He fought everyone he needed to fight and a contest against Anderson Silva, while fun, never really made a lot of sense. I expect he could be convinced, getting a fighter to step back in the ring is rarely a difficult task, but I'm hoping he makes it a more difficult task than most. I don't need to see GSP fight anymore, I'm not sure I want to see GSP fight anymore, but if he does I hope that he can leverage this whole situation into something of a rallying/bargaining point for fighters. If he can make the UFC crawl a bit, he could set a real standard for future fighters on what they can do once they've achieved a certain level of success.

Kid Nate: Yes, yes he will.

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