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Georges St-Pierre would return in July 'in perfect world,' Dana White says

LAS VEGAS -- It's not official, but UFC president Dana White said he is "hoping and aiming" for former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre's return to come in July.

Earlier this week, White announced that St-Pierre has come to terms on a new contract and will face Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship later this year.

St-Pierre (25-2) hasn't fought since 2013 and is required to undergo four months of out-of-competition drug testing under the UFC's anti-doping policy. An official date for his fight has not yet been announced.

On Friday, however, White said he's hoping the fight will headline the promotion's International Fight Week event, which is expected to be UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas.

"There are a lot of different things that need to happen," White said. "Once we know where Georges is, we'll set the date. I'm hoping and aiming for probably July. In a perfect world, I would love to see this fight happen on International Fight Week."

St-Pierre, 35, will be making his middleweight debut in the title fight. The Canadian star admitted during a news conference on Friday he "lost hope" a deal could be reached late last year, but the two sides were able to come to an agreement to bring him back last month.

Of course, speculation began immediately as to whom St-Pierre would fight. Although St-Pierre refused to detail any plans beyond Bisping, he said he has a long-term plan of chasing the biggest fights possible.

"I don't want to look past Michael Bisping right now, but I have long-term goals," St-Pierre said. "I know, approximately, what direction I want to take. I'm going to be 36 when this fight happens, and I want to make the biggest fights possible. I want to make history. I'm focusing on short-term goals."

Bisping (30-7), who captured the middleweight title last June, proposed one theory as to why St-Pierre elected to fight him.

"I know why you picked me," Bisping said at the Friday news conference. "You think I'm an easy fight. Just like Anderson Silva did. Just like Luke Rockhold did, when I knocked him out in the first round. Time and time again, I prove them wrong.

"This is the greatest of all time? Who didn't want to face Anderson Silva when he was the man, but he comes out of retirement to face me? Yeah, real good fighter."

The fight promises to be a hit at the box office, but it also holds up the 185-pound division. There were already middleweight contenders waiting in the wings for a title shot, including Yoel Romero (12-1) and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (24-4).

When asked if he felt any hesitation to book St-Pierre into a title fight -- not knowing if St-Pierre wished to stick around to defend the title if he wins it -- White said there have been discussions that the public is not privy to.

"It's not like Georges has a lot of time," White said. "Georges wanted this fight. Mike wanted this fight. I'm sure the fans wanted this fight. So, we did it.

"We've talked about this. Georges said he has plans, he's just not saying them here today. It's not like we went into this 185-pound championship fight saying, 'Let's see what happens.' Obviously, if Bisping wins he's said he'll turn around and face Romero. If Georges wins, he has a plan. He's just not willing to tell you guys what it is right now."