Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is standing by his claim that he’s no longer under contract to the UFC, and that he’s currently a free agent.
Following the announcement of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association [MMAAA] on Wednesday, St-Pierre said that his legal team has strong evidence that he’s a free agent, and that he can now explore all of his non-UFC options.
“My lawyer [James Quinn] — he’s the best in this kind of situation — he told me I’m a free agent. So I am a free agent from my side of the situation. We have very strong evidence that I’m a free agent. Very confident. That’s all I can say.”
The comments were made during a conference call, where St-Pierre, along with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Tim Kennedy, Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, and former Bellator owner Bjorn Rebney, announced the MMAAA, which is an organization that hopes to galvanize and organize current and former MMA fighters to a bigger piece of the UFC revenue pie.
The aforementioned James Quinn — who is a powerful New York-based lawyer — will also be a part of the organization.
St-Pierre first said that he was a free agent back on October 17, during his appearance on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. GSP said that the UFC didn’t meet his lawyer’s deadline to offer him a fight, and, therefore, he’s no longer bound by the promotion’s contract.
The former welterweight champ says that his negotiations for a UFC return were put on hold after the company was sold to WME-IMG for more than $4 billion over the summer.
Following St-Pierre’s appearance on the MMA Hour, the UFC countered his statement with a statement of their own.
“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.”
St-Pierre has been retired from MMA for the better part of the last three years. His last fight ended in a controversial split decision, as some people believed that he lost to Johny Hendricks, but the judges scored the bout in his favor. Following the fight, he announced that he needed to take some time away from the sport for various reasons, and his welterweight title was vacated as a result.
For a time, it didn’t look like St-Pierre would ever return to fighting. But, earlier this year, he made it quite clear that he wanted to come back for one more run. It’s unclear which weight class he’ll return at if he’s able to work out a deal with the UFC. In recent months, he’s talked about doing a fight with current middleweight champion Michael Bisping, and there’s even been talk of him challenging Conor McGregor for the lightweight championship, which would unquestionably be the biggest fight in UFC history.
During a recent interview with TSN’s Michael Landsberg, UFC President Dana White said that he recently sat down with St-Pierre, and that the two sides are now on good terms. But that doesn’t mean that GSP is happy with the company’s current offer.
St-Pierre was recently spotted at a Bellator show, which got some people thinking that he was considering going to the UFC’s chief competitor. As of right now, he hasn’t expressed any desire to sign with any competing organizations, but if he does end up going somewhere else, he’ll likely land in Bellator, as they can offer him the most money.
It’ll be interesting to see how the UFC handles the Georges St-Pierre situation going into 2017. They’re certainly not hurting for star power at the moment, as they have megastars such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. But, you can never have too many big stars, so it’ll be odd if the UFC isn’t able to work out a deal with GSP at some point next year.
[Featured Image by Isaac Brekken/AP Images]