The greatest welterweight in UFC history appears headed back to the octagon. According to reports, Georges St-Pierre (pictured) has ironed out his many issues with the planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion to end his 38-month hiatus.
According to MMAFighting.com, St-Pierre and the UFC have agreed on a multi-fight contract. However, they have yet put pen to paper or determine when St-Pierre will make his return to the cage.
As customary, financial terms of St-Pierre’s new deal were not disclosed.
St-Pierre was sitting firmly atop the UFC welterweight mountain when he voluntarily vacated his title and abruptly walked away from MMA in December 2013 to “take a break.” GSP later revealed that the UFC’s lax drug testing policy was one of his primary reasons for leaving the game at the peak of his illustrious career.
The 35-year-old had stated he would never return to the UFC unless more rigorous drug testing was in place. In July of 2015, the UFC hired the USADA to conduct random, year-round drug tests on all of their athletes.
After the UFC partnered with the USADA, St-Pierre ramped up his training to see if he could get his body and mind back to where they needed to be in order to return to form. After GSP determined he was good-to-go, he sought out UFC president Dana White to discuss a raise because since his departure, the UFC signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok that wasn’t beneficial to the majority of the UFC’s roster.
St-Pierre claimed that fighting on the terms of his past contract would cost him money because he wouldn’t be allowed to wear Under Armour during fight week and inside the cage.
It is unknown how the UFC compensated St-Pierre for his lost Under Armour money with his new deal.
Then there was the “free agent” drama in October. St-Pierre and his management had been in negotiations with former UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta since last February regarding a return at UFC 206 in Toronto. It appeared as though the stars were aligning for St-Pierre to end his three-year hiatus, but the UFC was sold to a group led by WME-IMG for a whopping $4 billion and killed all the momentum he had built with Fertitta.
WME-IMG erased Fertitta’s offer, which prompted St-Pierre’s attorney, James Quinn, who has worked with several NBA and NFL superstars regarding free agency, to set a deadline for the UFC 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 and declared him a free agent, despite the fact the UFC stated St-Pierre was still under contract.
St-Pierre then started showing his face around various Bellator MMA functions.
It appeared the final straw came in November when St-Pierre and four fellow UFC stars launched Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), an association, not to be confused with a union, fighting to receive better treatment from the UFC for all of its fighters – past, present and future. They are seeking a 50 percent share of revenue, as opposed to the roughly 8 percent they presently receive, health benefit packages comparable to other major sports leagues and compensation for current and former UFC fighters for lost income.
It is unknown if St-Pierre was forced to disassociate with MMAAA following his new UFC contract.
St-Pierre’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for the UFC. At his peak, St-Pierre was the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw. Current UFC cash cow Conor McGregor is currently pursuing a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr, UFC golden girl Ronda Rousey might be done with the sport after getting destroyed for the second straight fight, former middleweight king Anderson Silva is losing his fight with Father Time, former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones is on suspension and former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar announce his retirement from MMA yesterday.
Needless to say, the UFC is in desperate need of superstars.
St-Pierre left the game with a dominant 25-2 professional record. He hasn’t been seen since posting a controversial split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013.
It is unknown whether St-Pierre will look to reclaim his welterweight title or pursue a middleweight belt upon return.