St-Pierre is eager to fight and UFC officials are excited to have him back. But finalizing a deal won’t resolve all issues. For example, will St-Pierre compete at 170 pounds or move to middleweight? And who should he face in his return?
Finding a fighter willing to step in against St-Pierre is easy. It’s a big-money bout and a victory will immediately alter the opponent’s standing in the MMA circle.
The lucky winner of the St-Pierre sweepstakes, however, must meet certain criteria: He must be a current contender or titleholder at welterweight or middleweight. He must have high name recognition — this is, by the way, a high-profile bout.
With this in mind, here are the four most likely fighters to get the call from UFC officials:
MICHAEL BISPING (31-7-0): The reigning middleweight champ makes no secret of his desire to fight St-Pierre. Of all the fighters on this list, he presents the most difficult challenge at this time. Bisping will have a significant size and strength advantage. He is a well-rounded fighter, who is equally at ease standing or on the ground, and his confidence is at a career-high.
TYRON WOODLEY (16-3-1): The UFC welterweight champion is a solid boxer and wrestler. There is one major problem: St-Pierre is more skilled in each of those areas. One advantage Woodley will take into the fight, at least early, is recent activity. By the time this bout occurred, St-Pierre will have been out of action for nearly four years.
ANDERSON SILVA (34-8-0, 1 no contest): The 41-year-old former 185-pound titleholder, who is currently ranked No. 7 and regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist ever, isn’t nearly the fighter he once was. But a Silva-St-Pierre showdown has been teased for years. What better time than now to make it happen? Besides, 2017 is likely the last year this bout can be realized.
ROBBIE LAWLER (27-11-0, 1 no contest): If the long layoff has slowed St-Pierre down, the hard-hitting ex-welterweight champ will find out within the first two rounds. Plus, eager for a rematch with Woodley, Lawler will attempt to check St-Pierre’s immediately. This would be a highly intense fight early on.