On Yesterday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Canadian welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre dumped the fight game on its head by announcing that he’d terminated his UFC contract, and that he planned to explore free agency. Though the UFC quickly released a statement to the contrary, it’s clear that St-Pierre and the organization are not seeing eye-to-eye.
The apparent gripes between the two parties stem from the failed negotiations surrounding St-Pierre’s long-discussed return to competition. Though his comeback was rumored for UFC 206 on December 10 in Toronto, he and the UFC were ultimately unable to reach an agreement to this end.
There’s been plenty of speculation as to where St-Pierre and the UFC disagreed. One rumor is that Reebok, who handles athlete outfitting the UFC, was not keen on St-Pierre’s sponsorship deal with Under Armor. Another is that WME-IMG, the UFC’s new parent company, was worried that reintroducing St-Pierre to the fans after his almost three-year hiatus would cost more than his comeback was actually worth. And then, of course, there’s the simple theory that St-Pierre was just asking for too much money.
This latter theory can be largely attributed to a recent statement from disgruntled interim featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who asserted that St-Pierre wanted $10 million for his return – a sum the UFC wasn’t willing to pay.
“Georges asked him for 10 million,” Aldo said in a September interview with Combate (via Forbes). “He wanted 10 million to fight [Conor McGregor], and then Dana [White] didn’t want to pay that to him, so he put Nate [Diaz] in for the second time.”
Shortly after announcing his free agency on the The MMA Hour, however, St-Pierre refuted Aldo’s claim, saying he did not ask the UFC for $10 million.
“This is not true that we asked for 10 million,” St-Pierre said. “I read the article. What we asked, it was not 10 million,” he told Ariel Helwani. “Trust me; it was very, very reasonable.”
This rebuttal is in keeping with a recent statement from UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier, who will headline UFC 206 against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in St-Pierre’s stead.
Cormier, who claims to have spoken to St-Pierre about his negotiations with the UFC, says the Canadian great wasn’t asking for anything excessive.
“Honestly I had a conversation with Georges about what was stopping the deal from being made,” Cormier told Ariel Helwani on a previous episode of The MMA Hour. “It did not seem like that big an issue for who he is and what he brings. If it’s an issue of money, the amount that he told me, that should not be a deal-breaker.”
What do you think stopped St-Pierre and the UFC from reaching an agreement, and how ugly do you think this dispute will get? Sound off, PENN Nation!