After much speculation over a possible return to the Octagon for the first time in nearly three years, former UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has announced that he is now a free agent.
St-Pierre was evidently still under contract, stemming from an agreement signed in 2011. He had not fought since Novemner 16, 2013, when he defeated Johny Hendricks in a split decision to retain the title, before vacating the title in December, when he vacated the title and took a self-imposed hiatus from Mixed Martial Arts.
St-Pierre had been in talks with Dana White to finish out his then-current contract and sign a new deal, but Rush turned down a purported fight with Robbie Lawler, but with Lawler’s own temporary hiatus following his KO loss to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201, the competition for St-Pierre became scarce, as someone very talented would have to be pitted against him in order for athletic commission approval and to be a popular draw for buys.
Dana White recently appeared on FOX Sports Live and, in an interview with Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, the UFC boss stated that St-Pierre would not fight at UFC 206 in Toronto, considered by many to be the most likely shwo for the Canadian superstar’s return, and further stated he didn’t think GSP would ever fight again.
GSP confirmed his departure on the October 17 edition of The MMA Hour, telling Ariel Helwani that he was a free agent. His lawyer James Quinn stated that the contract was terminated because the UFC didn’t offer GSP a new fight in time. St-Pierre contends that the main point of frustration that led to the separation was the Fertitta brothers selling to WME-IMG.
“It was like a shock, because we felt like we were making progress, we were almost there. When they told us that (that they were selling), I got angry.”
After his lawyer set the deadline, UFC offered the ill-fated Lawler fight in hopes of keeping him under contract, but Quinn’s deadline passed and GSP was informed of his free agent status. He wanted to headline the UFC 206 show, believing he could have easily sold the building out.
As has become all too common when a fighter departs UFC, St-Pierre slammed the pay that fighters receive when under the UFC umbrella.
“Most fighters are starving, which is good for the UFC. If your employees are starving, they are easier to control.”
St-Pierre had already entered a rigorous USADA testing program in order to be cleared for a return, and every promotion in the world is likely scrambling to get GSP into their Octagon. Some names are already calling out Rush, with ONE FC Welterweight champion Ben Askren, a top ten fighter in the weight class, already throwing out a Tombstone reference:
Hey @GeorgesStPierre not a lot of people to fight outside the UFC. I'll be your huckleberry!!!
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 17, 2016
We’ll keep you updated as GSP maneuvers the open MMA world.
UPDATE: The UFC has claimed that St-Pierre is still under contract in their eyes, and that he is not free on the technicality that his lawyer supposedly had placed in the contract. St-Pierre’s camp is standing by their story.