Four years away is a lifetime in the world of mixed martial arts. However, as he slowly walked away from the opponent he had just choked unconscious, Georges St-Pierre raised his arms in victory – affirming that he is one of the greatest of all time.
But as I said, four years is a long time. The landscape of MMA has changed dramatically between GSP’s penultimate victory and his most recent at UFC 217. The sport, which was still toiling away in relative obscurity, has exploded onto the mainstream stage thanks to a more personality-driven approach by the athletes.
And at the forefront of that revolution has been Conor McGregor.
The Irishman was somewhat of an unknown when GSP walked away from the cage, having just competed in his second fight in the UFC. Since then, McGregor has become the sport’s pre-eminent – some may say only true – superstar. Through a combination of his brashness and highlight-reel knockouts, McGregor became the face of MMA.
In a landscape where the UFC has seemingly fewer and fewer legitimate draws, GSP and McGregor appear to stand above their contemporaries. That, of course, means the speculation has already begun about a clash between the polar opposite fighters.
Online sportsbook Sportsbook has GSP Sportsbook as a -150 favorite while McGregor comes back at +120. Though these odds are not dependent on which weight class the bout takes place at, most will assume it would happen at welterweight.
Though GSP is currently the UFC middleweight champion, there is no doubt his natural weight is 170 pounds. That was the weight he fought at throughout his entire career before his triumphant return to the Octagon. On the other side of the theoretical MMA fight analysis cage, McGregor has fought at the welterweight limit for both of his bouts against Nate Diaz.
That means that the weight factor is a relative non-issue.
Once you get past the size equation, you see a matchup filled with opposites. GSP, the quiet, polite Canadian who is at his best when he can drag his opponent into deep waters and wrestle them, vs McGregor, a brash, loud Irishman who is always in search of the knockout punch.
If this fight does get made, consider yourself lucky. GSP vs McGregor is the type of fight you tell your grandchildren about. The type of fight that breaks into the mainstream like few others ever could. The type of fight that can help define a generation of the sport of MMA.