UFC legend Georges St-Pierre says talk of a potential fight with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov trailed off because the UFC were wary of the Canadian winning the title and then retiring soon after.
St-Pierre and Nurmagomedov both flirted with the idea of a superfight on several occasions in recent years before GSP drew a line through the idea by announcing his permanent retirement from mixed martial arts in February 2019.
That decision wasn’t an easy one for the fighter universally recognized as the greatest welterweight fighter of all time. His final fight in the octagon saw him win the UFC middleweight title against Michael Bisping in November 2017, but St-Pierre says he didn’t necessarily want that to be his final piece of silverware in the UFC. However, he says the UFC wasn’t quite as keen for him to continue his belt quest as he was.
Having captured UFC titles at 170 and 185 pounds, St-Pierre actively courted the idea of returning for another title fight, against Khabib at 155 pounds.
“For me, it was because I considered Khabib right now the best fighter in the world,” St-Pierre explained.
“And he wanted to fight me as well. So, I thought it was a good fan fight.
“If you look on the UFC’s side, if I put myself in their shoes, they didn’t want to take the risk of me winning the title and then vacating again.”
St-Pierre, who turns 39 this week, is near-certain that he will never compete in the octagon again but in a sport in which retirements can sometimes be temporary arrangements, he says that it would take something spectacular to tempt him back into competition.
“It would take a 180-degree turnaround,” he said.
“I’m the happiest man in the world. An athlete has a window. You want to retire from the sport. You don’t want the sport retiring you.“
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While St-Pierre’s athletic achievements will last long beyond his final fight, he admits that his record-breaking career was achieved with one very motivating emotion: Fear.
“[He said] ‘You’re not scared, you’re excited.‘” St Pierre said of time he spent working with a sports psychologist.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m excited if I haven’t eaten for three days, and I know I’m about to eat my favorite dish. I’m excited if I’m seeing a beautiful, naked woman. I’m excited if it’s minus-15 in Montreal, and I know that next week I’m going on vacation to a beach in a warm, exotic place.
“I’m not excited to go fight in a cage against another psychopath that’s going to try to kill me and maybe I’m going to be humiliated. I’m not excited about that. I’m scared.'”