By Adam Martin
One of the greatest MMA fighters of all time could soon be close to returning to the sport.
Georges St-Pierre, the former long-time UFC Welterweight Champion, announced this week on The MMA Hour that he is close to returning to the sport that he helped make famous. The 35-year-old Canadian has not competed since winning a controversial split decision against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013,
but after nearly three years away from the Octagon, "Rush" has the itch to fight again, and he stands to make himself -- and the UFC -- a whole lot of money if and when he does so.
If and when GSP does return, he will need an opponent, and that lucky person stands to cash in on a huge payday, as GSP's return fight will undoubtedly be huge at the box office.
Here are five possible opponents for GSP's return bout:
Robbie Lawler: Lawler is the current UFC Welterweight Champion, and if GSP wants to come back and get his belt back, then Lawler is the man standing in his way. The night of GSP's last fight at UFC 167, Lawler defeated Rory MacDonald via split decision in a fight that was the start of a brilliant run "Ruthless" has had in his second stint inside the Octagon. Lawler is the best welterweight in the world right now and would be an extremely dangerous opponent for GSP to return to, but if he wants to get the welterweight belt back around his waist, this is the fight to make.
Anderson Silva: At one point in time, Silva and GSP were ranked #1 and #2 in the pound-for-pound rankings, with each man having the resume to lay claim to the top spot. For years fans asked for this fight, but it never happened, with GSP unwilling to move to 185 lbs and Silva unable to make 170 lbs. If GSP is open to taking middleweight fights now, though, then this fight could happen in 2016. Even though GSP hasn't fought in three years, and even though Silva hasn't won a fight in four years, this is still a really intriguing matchup. So if both men want it, the UFC definitely can put it together, and the MMA world will finally be treated to the superfight that everyone always wanted to see.
Johny Hendricks: In the eyes of many, except for two of the three cageside judges, Hendricks should have won the UFC welterweight title over GSP back at UFC 167. GSP came away with the
win that night, and we all remember Dana White saying GSP "owed" the sport a rematch with Hendricks, but obviously he retired soon afterwards and that never happened. Hendricks later defeated Lawler at UFC 171 to win the vacant welterweight belt, and though he's fallen on hard times as of late with a recent TKO loss to Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson, a rematch between Hendricks and GSP is still intriguing. If GSP wants to prove to himself and to everyone else that he's the better man, perhaps this is a fight that could happen, although it's definitely a bit further down the list than the others.
Conor McGregor: Finally, we come to McGregor, the biggest star in the sport right now. McGregor lost to Nate Diaz in a huge upset at UFC 196 earlier this year, but he'll get the chance to rematch him at UFC 202 this summer, and should McGregor win, it puts him back in prime position for another massive fight. McGregor has competed at welterweight throughout 2016, so a fight against GSP is not crazy anymore, even though McGregor used to be a featherweight (and technically, still is the featherweight champion). A fight between GSP and McGregor has the potential to be massively marketable, and although no belt would be on the line, it would potentially be the biggest fight of the year.