After over a year of rumors, negotiations, and public maneuvering between Georges St-Pierre and the UFC, it sounds like the most dominant welterweight champion of all-time will finally be making a return the octagon.
Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com reports that St-Pierre and the UFC have agreed to terms, and are extremely close to finalizing the deal. Assuming the deal doesn’t fall through at the last minute, it’s possible we could see GSP in the cage by the end of 2017.
The two sides have been negotiated for a while now. St-Pierre likely wanted more money, and insisted he was a free agent. The UFC declared that he was still under contract from when he began his self-imposed hiatus in November 2013. St-Pierre did enter the USADA drug testing poll in 2016, ensuring that he would have his mandatory four months of testing complete before any deal with signed.
Current middleweight champion Michael Bisping has been openly challenging GSP in the media, hoping for a big money PPV fight. Meanwhile welterweight champion Tyron Woodley would also love to welcome St-Pierre back into the fold. Either way, his return would be a much needed boost for the UFC, who are suddenly suffering from a lack of star power. Conor McGregor is taking some time off (and pursuing a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather), Ronda Rousey suffered a second straight brutal loss, Brock Lesnar is retired again (and suspended), and Jon Jones isn’t eligible to fight until the summer (also suspended). St-Pierre is one of the biggest PPV stars in the company’s history.
St-Pierre walked away from the UFC in 2013, after 12 straight victories. He cited burnout and concern over the UFC’s relaxed drug testing policies. He never officially called it a retirement, though. He was apparently close to coming to terms with the UFC last summer, but the offer was pulled when the company sold to new owners WME-IMG. Since then, it’s taken an intense series of negotiations to get the deal done.