Georges St. Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomedov are two of MMA’s biggest icons. And having dominated their respective divisions in a way never seen before, rumours about a potential superfight between the two have started to gain traction.
They actually started in 2018, when Khabib expressed his desire to fight the former champion over Irish superstar Conor McGregor. Then, in 2019, Khabib and his management explained the existence of a mysteriously defined “GSP clause” in the Russian’s contact. GSP even went so far to say that he and Khabib were happy to fight, and that it was the UFC who put the matchup on ice, fearing another vacant title should GSP win.
Fast forward to the whirlwind year that is 2020, and these rumours are picking up again. Replying to an Instagram post from MMA fan-favourite, Joe Rogan, Khabib wrote: “October – Justin and April – GSP.”
Naturally, this sent fans into a flurry. The prospect of two potential GOAT’s signing off their careers by fighting each other has many fans enthralled. But as much as I hate to be a buzzkill, I’m not interested.
I have several reasons for this, that I hope justify my kill-joy attitude. Firstly, is that I don’t see either fighter really gaining anything from this fight.
If Khabib wins, the suggestion is that he will be cementing his place as one of the greatest fighters of all time. But Khabib is already that. And more to the point, GSP is now 39 years old. Even if Khabib manages a win, the fanbase will always say that GSP was “finished,” that he only came out of retirement for the payday, and that Khabib could never have beaten a prime GSP.
Regardless of whether this is true, it will be a constant asterisk on the fight. And in this sense, Khabib risks everything to gain very little.
To put his undefeated record on the line to win a fight that many will see as little more than an exhibition bout seems simply unnecessary, given the other matchups that he could choose from.
If its legacy Khabib is after, a win over Gaethje and the winner of a Ferguson/Poirier contender fight would forever cement his place as the most dominant champion of all time, and in one of the sports most talented divisions – an achievement worthy of GOAT consideration itself. And if its money, a rematch against McGregor is always there for the taking.
For GSP on the other hand, a win over Khabib would almost certainly confirm his status as one of the greatest fighters ever to compete in sport. But GSP essentially already has this title.
There can never be one GOAT. But any coherent discussion around the topic already includes GSP’s name, and likely will regardless of whether he beats Khabib. Like Khabib, GSP has little to gain in terms of legacy.
What’s more, nobody seems to know what weight class this fight would take place at. Making GSP, whose last fight was at 185lbs, drop to 155 is frankly ridiculous. But at 170, GSP will likely seem massive in comparison to the lightweight champion. And despite what DC says, size does matter.
Combine this with Dana White’s staunch resistance against a 165lbs division, and this fight makes little sense in any division.
My final thought is that GSP has managed one of the happiest retirement stories in the history of the sport. One of the only champions to retire on a winning streak, he has even already had a successful return from retirement with his win over Bisping. So many fighters don’t know when to quit, and run their bodies into the ground competing against younger, hungrier fighters. GSP did what so few have done, and managed to avoid this trap. I think its only fair that MMA fans and fighters leave him to enjoy his retirement in peace.
Of course, none of this is to say that I wouldn’t tune in. And I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy the spectacle. A Khabib VS GSP superfight for the inaugural 165lbs title would be nothing if not entertaining.
But for the sport itself, this fight makes little sense. Let GSP enjoy his retirement, and let Khabib finish flattening the lightweight division.
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