As expected, just because former UFC welterweight king Georges St-Pierre (pictured) terminated his UFC contract and declared free agency doesn’t mean his bosses are going to allow him to walk right out their octagon door without plenty of resistance.
In a brief statement released to FoxSports.com on Monday, a UFC official claimed St-Pierre is still under contract and they intend to hold him to the agreement. The rep even threw in “reserves its rights under the law,” to suggest there will be a lengthy legal battle ahead if St-Pierre attempts to fight elsewhere.
“Georges St-Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his MMA promoter,” the UFC official expressed. “Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St-Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St-Pierre do the same.”
It’s no surprise the UFC wouldn’t allow the most decorated welterweight champion in company history to bounce for nothing. Not only because at 35, with no additional wear and tear on his body over the past three years, they can still milk plenty of box office fights out of St-Pierre, but because their biggest rival, Bellator MMA who is backed by Viacom’s billion dollar bank account, is waiting with open arms.
St-Pierre has been itching to end his three-year hiatus for nearly a year. He’s been training full-time again and claims to be the best he’s ever been. The only problem is, UFC president Dana White refuses to present him with an acceptable offer – opponent-wise, and mainly money-wise.
St-Pierre said on “The MMA Hour” yesterday that he and former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta have been negotiating since February regarding a return to MMA. UFC 200 and UFC 205 in New York were initially offered to St-Pierre, but the Canadian felt that UFC 206 in Toronto would best suit his comeback.
The UFC was subsequently sold to a group led by WME-IMG for a whopping $4 billion and killed all the momentum he had built with Fertitta.
St-Pierre’s attorney, James Quinn, who has worked with several NBA and NFL superstars regarding free agency, set a deadline for the UFC’s new owners to present his client with a new fight. The UFC countered with a showdown with former champ Robbie Lawler, but then Lawler decided to take an extended break to recover from July’s knockout loss to Tyron Woodley that cost him is title.
That’s when Quinn terminated St-Pierre’s UFC contract.
While St-Pierre currently insists to have no hard feelings with White or the UFC, he soon will if this battle goes to court. GSP is different than most MMA fighters in that he has money, which allows him access to someone like Quinn, but WME-IMG has even bigger stacks and high-power attorneys of their own.
This situation smells a lot like what Quinton “Rampage” Jackson went through in March of 2015 with Bellator. Jackson claimed that he was able to void his deal with Bellator because they didn’t hold up their end of the initial agreement. He did not elaborate on what Bellator failed to do.
After a quick legal battle, Jackson briefly re-signed with the UFC for one fight. He was essentially forced to go back to Bellator after reaching an “amicable agreement to settle the litigation.”