Welcome back, Georges St.-Pierre.
The former welterweight champion will make his comeback against Michael Bisping in a middleweight title fight later in 2017, UFC president Dana White announced Wednesday.
St.-Pierre last fought against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013, winning on a split decision before vacating his title and taking an extended break from mixed martial arts. At the time, St.-Pierre was the longest-reigning 170-pound champion in UFC.
"He wanted to take a break," White said of St-Pierre while appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter. "He wanted to take some time off from the sport. He's been talking about coming back for a couple years. Personally, I wasn't a believer, but he and I got together in Las Vegas, had dinner and got a deal done. I'm not a big believer in long layoffs. Even Muhammad Ali, after a long layoff, didn't look the same. But [St-Pierre] is always in shape, he takes care of himself physically, and we'll see what happens."
Bisping won the UFC Middleweight Championship over Luke Rockhold with a knockout at UFC 199 in June 2016 before defending the title against Dan Henderson at UFC 204 last October. The British fighter has publicly said multiple times that he wanted a shot at St-Pierre and the two nearly got a deal done to fight at UFC 206 in Toronto, but it never quite came together.
Recent UFC news has been dominated by the possibility of a Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather bout, but White came out and said the superfight is “nowhere” close to happening.
White suggested that he thinks McGregor will have his next fight in the UFC—not a boxing ring—and that it could be against winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson at UFC 209, which will be on March 4.
Even if the McGregor-Mayweather fight never happens, UFC fans now have another major bout to look forward to with St-Pierre and Bisping.