Although Georges St. Pierre will still be wearing the lineal UFC welterweight title strap when he returns to the Octagon, he won't be doing it as the champion.
According to the Canadian superstar, he's simply getting a title shot, just like any other challenger—as far as he's concerned, interim belt-holder Carlos Condit is the true UFC welterweight champion.
That was St. Pierre's official statement during the UFC 154 press conference today, where he admitted that roughly a year-and-a-half of inactivity meant he wasn't really the champion anymore:
"In my contract, I was supposed to defend my title every year and I didn't do it. For me, I see Carlos Condit as the champion and I'm getting a title shot."
Although some people might pass it off as GSP being his usual humble self, the reality is that he couldn't be more correct in saying that Condit is the world's top welterweight fighter.
Back when St. Pierre had effectively cleaned out the welterweight division in early 2011 with a difficult win over Jake Shields and his eye-poking tactics, people were already trying to come up with names of young guns who could at least threaten the pound-for-pound king.
That list included the likes of Nick Diaz, Jake Ellenberger, and fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald, all of whom had been thrashing their opponents that same year.
However, ever since GSP came up lame with his ACL injury last December, both Diaz and Ellenberger have suffered hard losses, and even MacDonald struggled a bit with Che Mills before wisely taking the fight to the ground and beating him up.
Although several MMA fans may not like the fact that Condit has sat on the interim title ever since edging out Diaz on the judges' scorecards last February, that practical decision has proven to be the best one that the Greg Jackson fighter could have made.
As it stands, Condit's already beaten all the challengers everyone else said could possibly compete with GSP in the future. His sniper-like striking skills and strong ground game will likely be just as much of a threat to St. Pierre as whatever Nick Diaz's relentless offense would've brought to the table.
Like it or not, Carlos Condit is still the best welterweight fighter in the world. Until Georges St. Pierre steps into the Octagon and beats him, there's really no point in pretending otherwise.