UFC 217: Georges St-Pierre living in the moment ahead of return

NEW YORK — From the moment that Georges St-Pierre stepped in front of the New York crowd, there was no way his grin was leaving his face. St-Pierre was back with the UFC, counting down the last few days that will lead him to a middleweight title bout with Michael Bisping (31-7) at UFC 217.

“I can’t wait for Saturday,” St-Pierre said at Thursday’s UFC 217 press conference. “There is no other place and moment that I want to be than where I am at right now. I can’t wait.”

MORE: Bisping’s title reign came too late

On Dec. 13, it will mark exactly four years since St-Pierre announced that he was taking time off from the UFC. St-Pierre credited his departure due to the issue that he wasn’t enjoying his run. Even though he was in the midst of a title reign, St-Pierre vacated the championship and took a step back.

Fast forward to the events leading up to his main event bout at Madison Square Garden against Bisping; St-Pierre, once again, is basking in the support from the UFC fan base.

“GSP, GSP, GSP,” those in attendance for the press conference chanted as St-Pierre approached the traditional face-off with Bisping. St-Pierre acted as a musical conductor during the press conference, moving his hands along with the cadence of the crowd.

For the entirety leading up to Saturday’s festivities, Bisping continued to reiterate St-Pierre’s claim that, despite a multi-fight contract with the UFC, the Canadian will retire if he loses. St-Pierre flipped the script on Bisping for the first time during their three-city press tour.

“I’ll retire him,” St-Pierre said in retort. 

“Rush” St-Pierre possesses a certain calmness to his demeanor this week. During Wednesday’s open workout, St-Pierre briefly worked on a few techniques but his attention soon focused on the crowd. He called upon a child to come and learn a move or two. The first child he called was too afraid, but another volunteer stepped up. 

“I try to make training fun, St-Pierre said. “Because before business, before money, before all that, I started martial arts because it was fun, so I try to go back to my roots in having fun.”

When the Saint-Isidore, Quebec, native walks out toward the octagon this weekend, it will be a culmination of what the UFC has been hyping his return to be. The two fighters will finally meet after upwards of seven months of trying to make something work. The original bout was slated for earlier this year but due to St-Pierre’s eye injury, the July fight was postponed.

Now, enjoying the moments that come with his return, St-Pierre is solely focused on claiming the championship that Bisping has kept in his clutch since winning it in June 2016. 

“I’m very excited,” St-Pierre said. “[The UFC middleweight championship is] what I want and I’m going to get it Saturday night.”

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