LOS ANGELES — The discussions between the UFC and Georges St-Pierre’s team might be at an impasse, per GSP.
St-Pierre told MMA Fighting on Wednesday night at the “Kickboxer: Vengeance” premiere in Westwood that his agents attempted to reach out to WME-IMG, the UFC’s new owners, to talk about his contract this week, but they failed. GSP said the two sides were supposed to talk Tuesday, but it didn’t go down as planned.
“We wanted to get in touch,” St-Pierre said. “They were supposed to talk yesterday, but they couldn’t reach them. Something happened. They’re supposed to reach them. They’re unreachable now.”
GSP, 35, has repeatedly stated his desire to come back to fight in the UFC again after three years away. He even enrolled in the USADA drug-testing program Aug. 10, which would put a potential comeback fight in line for UFC 206 on Dec. 10 in Toronto. GSP, the greatest welterweight fighter of all time, wants to fight in his home country of Canada — against either Tyron Woodley or Nick Diaz — and he has traditionally been a massive draw in Toronto.
In a statement to MMA Fighting, UFC senior vice president of public relations Dave Sholler intimated that there was no such deadlock in negotiations between St-Pierre and the UFC and WME-IMG.
“Dialogue between GSP’s management and UFC officials is ongoing,” Sholler said.
St-Pierre, though, seems frustrated by the way things are going. He has said that he has made “reasonable” requests to the UFC regarding a new contract. It might be taking longer to work out than he hoped. GSP told MMA Fighting that he has turned down multiple other opportunities — in movies and otherwise — in order to stay in the gym training for a return.
“We’ll see,” St-Pierre said. “I’ve refused a lot of projects because of this. At one point, I’ll have to make a choice.
“I want to stay sharp. I want to stay in shape. It’s either you go in movies or you go in fighting. You have to do one good.”
Part of the hangup, St-Pierre said, has to do with the UFC’s apparel deal with Reebok, which was not in place when St-Pierre stepped away and vacated his welterweight title in 2013. Many fighters lost of a lot of sponsorship money when the UFC and Reebok partnered together. Previously, fighters could wear the logos of their sponsors in the Octagon; now, they can only wear Reebok.
“It’s a lot of the Reebok deal, but it’s also other things, too,” St-Pierre said. “The Reebok deal is part of it and it changed a lot of the infrastructure of the contract. This is not my fight. This is my manager’s fight.”
St-Pierre is represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a Hollywood firm that is a direct rival to WME-IMG. It’s unclear whether that has anything to do with the discussions. In an interview with MMA Fighting last week, GSP was confident that the rivalry between the two companies would not pose a threat to his comeback.
“Conflict is sometimes good,” St-Pierre said. “It raises the bar. It’s a good thing. Some people might not like what I have to say, but I think it’s good.”
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