The UFC welterweight champion - and his next challenger - says the mixed martial arts legend deserves a chance to win back the belt he vacated in 2013
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley thinks that former champion and MMA legend Georges St-Pierre deserves an automatic title shot should he return to the promotion.
Woodley, who defeated Robbie Lawler to win the belt earlier this year, faces Stephen Thompson at UFC 205 this week in Madison Square Garden and agrees that a shot at the 170lbs belt would be a mark of respect for the fighter.
"We don't know what's going on with Georges," Woodley said on a media conference call. "It sounds like he wants to fight. It sounds like there are things that are keeping him out of fighting, and that's where it's at.
"Our game, mixed martial arts, is one part entertainment and one part sport. So from a sport standpoint, it would make sense for Demian Maia to fight the winner of this fight.
"But from an entertainment standpoint, and I guess you could say sport as well because [St-Pierre] left as the champion - he's the greatest welterweight of all-time - and if he comes back, I think as a gesture of respect, I don't think he should have to fight one or two fights.
"I think he should come right in and fight for the title. When I was getting ready to fight Robbie [Lawler], it was known that, 'hey, Georges might come back, so if Georges comes back and you don't have this fight, then he's going to jump you.'
"And I knew that and I was okay with that, so I don't think that should change for anybody. I think everybody should be understanding of that."
Tyron Woodley (left) and Stephen Thompson will face off at UFC 205 this Saturday in New York City for the welterweight strap. Image: Julie Jacobson AP/Press Association Images
GSP has been caught in a public standoff with the UFC after a proposed return at UFC 206 in Canada reportedly stalled during contract negotiations.
Woodley will have his first title defence against Thompson in New York and the challenger agrees that an automatic title shot would be the right move.
"He is definitely one of the best guys who ever stepped out in the Octagon, one of the best welterweights who ever stepped out there," said Thompson.
"He is, and he's one of the reasons why I got into this sport in the first place. I was training up with him, helping out with his fights, and that's why I actually started mixed martial arts was because of Georges. So yeah man, give him that title shot."