The UFC is set to make its return to Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 10, but, for now, they’ll be heading there without Canadian mixed martial arts superstar Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre, who retired from the UFC in November of 2013 after a controversial split decision victory over Johny Hendricks, recently said that he’s interested in returning to the Octagon and that he wants his return to be in his home country of Canada. But, for now, at least, the main event of UFC 206 is a light heavyweight championship fight between the champ Daniel Cormier, and the challenger Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Canadian MMA fans have been frustrated with the UFC, specifically UFC president Dana White because he insists that St-Pierre actually isn’t interested in fighting again. Of course, many see White’s comments as a negotiation tactic. But, the fans who are frustrated with the UFC vs. GSP situation might want to pay attention to UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping’s Twitter page, because the current middleweight champ just tweeted out that he’s verbally agreed to fight St-Pierre when the UFC makes its return to Toronto in December.
@GeorgesStPierre, we all want more money. But let's go,sign the papers.Give the people of Toronto what they want, be a hero! Let's go champ!— michael (@bisping) October 26, 2016
@daStockguy23 always down when it's been offered. I'm in SIGN THE PAPERS, let's go champ!— michael (@bisping) October 26, 2016
Bisping then posted the following Instagram update, where he told St-Pierre to accept the fight, and to be “a Canadian hero.”
Even though Bisping claims that he’s verbally agreed to fight St-Pierre at UFC 206, Dana White is telling fans that the fight isn’t happening.
“There is no Bisping vs. ‘GSP’ fight in Toronto. I know Mike wants it, but it’s not happening.”
Dana White has fibbed a time or two when he’s been asked about an upcoming fight, with the most recent time being over the summer, when he publicly said that Brock Lesnar wouldn’t be returning at UFC 200 just 24 hours before it was announced that, in fact, Lesnar would be fighting at the event.
The biggest issue the UFC has with bringing St-Pierre back is the money he’s demanding. Before he retired, the UFC hadn’t partnered up with Reebok, so GSP was able to make a ton of money with sponsorship deals. Of course, he’s still allowed to have those sponsorship deals, but he won’t be allowed to advertise his sponsors while he’s doing UFC-related work. So, naturally, his sponsors probably won’t be interested in paying him the same amount of money that he was making before, and GSP wants the UFC to make up the money he’d be losing in his new contract. So far, the two sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement.
Last week, St-Pierre announced that his UFC contract had been terminated and that he is currently a free agent. But, shortly after GSP announced his free agency, the UFC issued the following statement:
“Georges St-Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his MMA promoter. Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St-Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St-Pierre do the same.”
Before Bisping said that he’s verbally agreed to fight St-Pierre at UFC 206, there was a rumor going around that GSP would fight Anderson Silva at the event. But, that rumor was squashed by Dana White. So, for now, it looks like we’re not going to see St-Pierre back in the Octagon anytime soon.
It’s unclear if Bisping will actually end up defending his title at UFC 206 if he doesn’t end up fighting St-Pierre. All four potential challengers for his title, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Yoel Romero, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold, have upcoming fights. So, unless the UFC wants to pull scrap those fights, it looks like it’s Georges St-Pierre or bust for Bisping at UFC 206.
[Featured Image by Andre Penner/AP Images]