Fans were ecstatic when former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre stated that he was ready to come out of his hiatus from fighting. The former welterweight king last fought in the Octagon nearly three years ago in 2013 when he battled Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
Little did fans know that St-Pierre would be in likely the biggest fight of his life, outside of the Octagon.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, “Rush” announced that he and his legal team terminated his contract with the UFC and stated he was now a free agent. Hours later, the UFC released a statement saying that St-Pierre was, in fact, still under a contract with the company.
St-Pierre’s powerful attorney, James Quinn of the Weil, Gotshal and Manges firm spoke with MMA Fighting about the terms of St-Pierre’s UFC contract that looks more like a “form of slavery.”
“I’ve done a lot of work in sports. When I read that contract, I was blown away by how restrictive it is,” Quinn told MMA Fighting.
“They’re basically tying him up for life. They have no rights and they own all of his licensing and all the other things. It’s unheard of in the other professional sports. And they won’t get away with it forever.”
Quinn has battled big leagues such as the NBA and NFL before and said that all cases in the past with similar deals have been found to be illegal when reviewed under examination of the law.
“You couldn’t get away with any old contract in any of the other sports,” Quinn said. “There is litigation in that aspect of a class-action lawsuit that challenges the contract as being illegal under the NHS laws. That case is ongoing, and I think that under the law’s terms, I don’t think the contract — that formal contract — is likely to stand up. Not in today’s world. It’s a pretty nice form of slavery.”
St-Pierre gave the UFC his intent to fight again but things fell apart after the UFC was unable to meet a 10-day deadline, which was on his contract, to offer an official fight.
“He wanted to arrange for the terms of the fight, and that did not happen in a timely fashion,” Quinn stated. “They were required to actually schedule a fight, the time and place with a bout agreement, and we gave them — because there’s a 10-day notice period in the contract, in the old contract — we gave them the 10 days to do that, and they didn’t do it before the time period. And therefore we terminated the contract.”
Although the UFC stated that St-Pierre’s contract with them is still valid, Quinn stands on his grounds that St-Pierre is no longer under any contract with the UFC but doesn’t rule out that they can still work out a deal.
“They offered the fight at a time when Lawler had said he was unable to fight,” Quinn said. “We take the position that we believe the contract has been terminated. They have their hand, we have our hand, we’ll see how it plays out. Georges still wants to fight and he’s perfectly happy to fight under a new UFC contract, if we can negotiate one. Or if not, he’ll look at other options.”