Earlier in the week, Pundit Arena acknowledged that rumours of a bout between Conor McGregor and former longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre had begun to swirl online.
They weren’t just rumours of ongoing negotiations either. Reports from a couple of websites were actually claiming that the fight was a done deal and on the verge of being unveiled.
However, we advised our readers to take the story with a generous pinch of salt.
In light of recent comments that St-Pierre made to MMAFighting, a much heftier dose of sodium would be required to make these murmurings in any way palatable.
According to ‘GSP’, his return to the octagon isn’t even a certainty at this point, never mind the identity of his opponent.
The Canadian icon claimed that talks between his team and the UFC’s new owners, WME-IMG, were supposed to take place on Tuesday, but that this meeting never transpired. Attempts by his agents to open dialogue with company brass at the ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ premiere the following evening were also unsuccessful.
“We wanted to get in touch,” said the 35-year-old. “They were supposed to talk yesterday, but they couldn’t reach them. Something happened. They’re supposed to reach them. They’re unreachable now.”
If what St-Pierre attests is true, it’s more than a little perplexing. After all, there are a host of potentially, nay guaranteed to be lucrative bouts out there for both he and the company.
A fight with the aforementioned McGregor would undoubtedly break Pay-per-view records, while showdowns with old foe Nick Diaz and newly crowned welterweight champion Tyron Woodley would also draw plenty of eyes. Ever since he ripped the middleweight strap from Luke Rockhold at UFC 199, Michael Bisping has made a habit of calling out St-Pierre, and this is another fight that would do a handsome trade.
One would have thought that new CEO Ari Emanuel’s mouth would be watering at the prospect of St-Pierre’s return.
But there appears to be a few stumbling blocks. Chief among them, the Reebok deal.
In the past St-Pierre has identified the promotion’s agreement with the sports clothing giant as one of the major barriers to his return and he once again acknowledged that this is a key issue.
“It’s a lot of the Reebok deal, but it’s also other things, too,” said the fighter, who hasn’t competed since November of 2013. “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.”
For his part though, it seems that ‘GSP’ is willing to walk away from the UFC if he is unable to negotiate a satisfactory deal.
“We’ll see,” he told MMAFighting. “I’ve refused a lot of projects because of this. At one point, I’ll have to make a choice.”