GEORGE ST. PIERRE – NOT A DONE DEAL, BUT LOOKING GOOD
It’s starting to look more than ever that Georges St-Pierre will find his way back to the Octagon in 2016, but he was quick to admit that it’s not a done deal.
In a phone interview with MMAFighting.com, St-Pierre admitted that “all the stars are aligned,” affirming speculation that his four month testing window ending on the same day as UFC 206 in Toronto was more than coincidence. While the timing is perfect, St-Pierre also said that a deal hasn’t been finalized.
“It’s not done at this point,” he said. “We still have to talk to the new owners soon, see what they have to say,” he said, but remained confident the deal would happen. “It’s something fair and we have to wait… I’m very confident and trusting in the people that work for me.”
St-Pierre is also very confident in his abilities inside the cage after being away from the sport for three years, but knows that his window to return to the sport is small. “I feel I’m in my prime right now,” he said. “I’m the best I’ve ever been at 35… I don’t want to wait any longer, because if I wait too long I’m going to be past that prime and I don’t want that.”
St-Pierre sounds like he’s ready to return very soon. The biggest roadblock thus far has been sponsorship money that he is losing as a result of the Reebok deal. If that gap in income can be filled by the new owners, we may finally be seeing GSP back in the UFC before the year ends.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: As I wrote in Saturday’s News Digest, it makes too much sense for GSP to return at the Toronto show and he all but confirmed that the date of his drug testing beginning four months before the show is no coincidence. The new ownership is going to want to make big fights as often as possible as they put a massive investment in this purchase and will have huge loans to pay off. GSP is one of those big money players who isn’t active right now who can be a difference-maker immediately. WME-IMG might be willing to give in to whatever St-Pierre is asking for more easily than Lorenzo Fertitta would have, so if the deal is closed soon, that may have been part of the equation. No official first challenger for Tyron Woodley’s Welterweight Championship has been announced, so a fight with GSP may be on the table. If a deal can’t be made, UFC could find themselves struggling to find a quality main event for a show sandwiched between the MSG show and the usually big year end event.
THURSDAY’S NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Nick Diaz was reportedly jumped by four men outside a Las Vegas nightclub, according to TMZ Sports. The fight broke out after Diaz bumped into another man outside the Hyde at Bellagio. Diaz apologized but the other party did not accept and then three others jumped in. A spokesperson for Hyde denied that there was any “altercation inside Hyde Bellagio” according to MMAMania.com.
-Donald Cerrone has signed a new eight-fight contract with UFC according to MMAJunkie. There had been reports that Cerrone’s contract expired after his TKO win over Rick Story at UFC 202, but he actually had one fight remaining on the contract.
-Urijah Faber was asked to fight Conor McGregor at UFC 196 before McGregor accepted a fight with Nate Diaz, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Faber and McGregor had coached opposing teams on a season of The Ultimate Fighter that had finished airing three months prior to UFC 196.
-Paige VanZant told the UFC Unfiltered podcast that she refused to leave her hotel room following her December loss to Rose Namajunas. VanZant fights Bec Rawlings this Saturday on UFC on Fox from Chicago.
-Gunnar Nelson vs. Dong Hyun Kim is the tentative main event for UFC Fight Night in Belfast on November 19 according to MMA Fighting.
-UFC announced Mirsad Bektic vs. Arnold Allen for UFC 204 in a featherweight bout.
-Former Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander Schlemenko is set to return to the promotion after having his three year suspension by the CSAC lifted in court. ESPN is reporting he will fight former Ultimate Fighter winner Kendall Grove in October.
(MMATorch is introducing a Daily News Digest where with one click each day you can get the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Michael Hiscoe is a new MMATorch live events reporter and editorial columnist. He has written reviews for movie websites such as DVDTown.com and MovieMet.com in the past. He has been an avid follower of MMA for over 10 years and now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)