The hype over a potential showdown between current UFC lightweight king Khabib and former two-weight champ GSP reached new levels this week, after the undefeated Russian set out his patch to retirement with bouts against Justin Gaethje in October followed by a showdown with the 39-year-old Canadian in April of 2021.
The plan even appeared to have the endorsement of UFC boss Dana White, who had said he “would do anything Khabib wanted to do” for his final fight in the octagon, which many assume to be once he has reached the 30-0 marker.
Former UFC star Sonnen has said he foresees the fight happening, not least because White will be far less resitant to the idea – even after GSP returned to defeat Michael Bisping to win the middleweight title in 2017, only to vacate the belt immediately afterwards.
“Dana’s resistance to putting Georges in (against Khabib) was when he said, ‘Hey Georges, you already did this to me once, you went up to 185lbs, grabbed that title and rode off into the sunset, now I’ve got a division with no champion in. I don’t like that,'” Sonnen said on his YouTube show.
“The only difference is that this time you’re openly telling me ahead of time you’re going to do that at 155lbs. But everything changes if your champion (Khabib) is coming into the match saying, ‘I’m done’. Well then why can’t his challenger say the same thing?
“If the belt’s going to be vacated, and the number one thing I don’t want to see (as Dana White) is the vacating of the belt, it’s same, same, it’s apples, apples.”
For the bout to ever come to fruition Khabib does, of course, have to overcome a considerable obstacle in the form of interim lightweight champion Gaethje, with whom he will throw down on October 24, most likely in Abu Dhabi.
But win that, and thoughts will turn to what the final octagon flight of ‘The Eagle’ will look like, as he seeks to honor what is widely considered to be his late father and trainer Abdulmanap’s wish of bowing out at an unblemished 30-0.
Canadian legend GSP, who will this year be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, has meanwhile hinted that he could be tempted out of retirement for the fight, saying “I thought I was done, (but) they pulled me back in.“
Sonnen said the fight would be a colossal clash between the greatest fighter the sport had ever seen against its most dominant.
“I do think that fight’s going to happen, a lot of that is the fan in me, I’m hoping for that fight. That would be a legacy fight to the highest of levels,” he said.
“As fans, we like to see pressure, we like to see people go all in… If you’re telling me we can do that with Georges St-Pierre, the greatest the sport has even seen, period, end of story, versus maybe the new greatest the sport has ever seen (Khabib)… the most dominant champion in the toughest weight class across the board…
“The most dominant fighter in the history of the sport versus the greatest in the history of the sport, we’ve got to see that fight.”
If Khabib can beat Gaethje in October, it’s hard to see too many fans arguing with that verdict.