It has been four long years since former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre competed inside of the Octagon. That is a lengthy hiatus for any fighter, let alone one who was arguably the pound-for-pound best in the world when he left the sport behind.

When GSP makes his anticipated return to action later tonight (Sat., Nov. 4, 2017) at UFC 217 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, against UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, we will find out one way or another if the Canadian superstar should have stay retired.

While St-Pierre’s absence from mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the most glaring aspects of this fight, it isn’t the only hurdle the former UFC titleholder must overcome. In fact, St-Pierre’s battle with Bisping in NYC is building up to be his toughest title fight of his entire career. At least that’s what it looks like on paper.

First of all, St-Pierre has never competed at 185 pounds. He has flirted with a superfight against former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the past, but GSP has only fought at welterweight in his career. That means the Canadian star will be returning after a four-year hiatus to an unfamiliar environment. St-Pierre most certainly trained his ass off for this fight, and took all the proper precautions to successful pack on muscle, but he still doesn’t have experience carrying that extra weight around in a real fight.

On top of that, St-Pierre will be taking on one of the bigger middleweights in the division. Bisping may not be as muscular as Yoel Romero or as strong as Luke Rockhold, but he’s a big body who came into UFC as a light heavyweight. St-Pierre’s ability to control the fight and impose his wrestling may be non-existent against a larger opponent like “The Count.” If that’s the case, St-Pierre is going to have to stand and exchange with the middleweight champion, which is not going to bode well for GSP considering he got pieced up by Johny Hendricks his last time around.

As you can see, the odds are stacked against St-Pierre in his return to the cage. But despite all of these hurdles, the 36-year-old is still the betting favorite entering his main event clash with Bisping. It goes to show that GSP’s previous dominance inside of the Octagon has not been forgotten, and that his skill set in 2017 is still significant enough to push through his biggest opponent to date.

Only time will tell if St-Pierre can put the last four years aside, perform like his old self during his days atop the welterweight pecking order, and reestablish his worth as one of the hottest tickets in all of UFC.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 217 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.