For all of the best-laid plans concocted by UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov about an exit strategy that includes a send-off next April against Georges St-Pierre, the former two-division king isn't as big of a believer in its chances.
St-Pierre (26-2), who officially retired last year and hasn't fought since returning from a four-year layoff to defeat Michael Bisping for the middleweight crown in 2017, spoke to BT Sport on Wednesday about his induction into the 2020 class of the UFC Hall of Fame.
Asked about the possibility of a return, the 39-year-old Canadian icon said "the chances are incredibly low." St-Pierre did admit, however, it's something he still thinks about.
"It's tempting and I still train hard," he said. "Now it's COVID, so of course it's different. It's illegal to train combat sports here but I always train hard and I still get it. I feel I am at my best but the fighter is always the last one to find out when your time is up."
Nurmagomedov (28-0) is expected to return to the Octagon this fall for a difficult challenge against interim 155-pound champion Justin Gaethje (22-2). Should be defend his title, the 31-year-old Nurmagomedov has stated his preference for a final bout be one against GSP, whom his late father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, considered a dream opponent for his son.
The elder Nurmagomedov's death in early July seemed to speed up his son's interest in retiring from the sport altogether. But St-Pierre remains unsure if the UFC, potentially still sore about GSP vacating the middleweight title immediately after winning it, would be willing to allow him to do the same should he become the promotion's first three-division champion by winning the lightweight belt.
"I don't know. It takes three parties to make a fight," St-Pierre said. "It takes one opponent, another opponent and it takes the organization, as well. I don't know if the organization would want that. I run away with the welterweight, I run away with the middleweight and they assuredly don't want me to run with the lightweight."
For the record, UFC president Dana White admitted for the first time publicly last month that he would be open to such a fight for Nurmagomedov's farewell out of the respect he has for "The Eagle" as a fighter and champion.
But can St-Pierre, a former UFC champion at 170 and 185 pounds, realistically cut down to lightweight at this point in his career?
"I'm 39 years old and I don't think I can go 155 without my performance being compromised," St-Pierre said.
One thing GSP has retained is an incredible amount of respect for Nurmagomedov and what he has accomplished. St-Pierre also believes, despite having competed at higher weights, that he would be the smaller man in the cage if he ever faced the current pound-for-pound king.
"I believe he is the best fighter right now on the face of the planet," St-Pierre said. "Khabib is fighting at 155 but I believe he is heavier than me and walks around at a heavier weight. He is younger than me and can fluctuate whenever. I was never a big fan of weight cutting because I always thought of longterm consequences.
"Physically, I'm always very fit and don't have a lot of water addition and fat. I'm at my natural walking around weight. It's different for everybody but I think Khabib walks around heavier than me and is 185 or close to 200 and I've never been close to 200 in my life."