The wait may finally be over.
Ariel Helwani at MMA Fighting is reporting that Georges St. Pierre has agreed on financial terms for a return to UFC. The contract is said to be for multiple fights and St. Pierre’s return to the cage is targeted for later this year. This comes a few months after St-Pierre publicly declared himself a free agent. UFC denied these claims.
The new contract leaves several options for a return fight. First, he could immediately challenge for the Welterweight Championship he relinquished after defeating Johny Hendricks in a narrow decision at UFC 167. That would likely mean a matchup between GSP and the winner of next month’s Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson fight.
St. Pierre has also talked about fighting Michael Bisping, the current UFC Middleweight Champion. Bisping has been keen on such a fight but may find himself matched up with Yoel Romero in the next few months. A Bisping loss could eliminate a GSP fight as an option.
The most likely non-championship fights for GSP would likely include one of the two Diaz brothers. Both Nick and Nate are only interested in big money fights so GSP is one of few opponents who will motivate them to get in the cage
The wildcard and biggest money option would be Conor McGregor. GSP has said in the past that he would consider cutting to 155, so a fight with the current UFC Lightweight Champion could be one of the biggest if not the biggest fight in UFC history. McGregor seems to have his sights set on a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather so the timing may not work out for a late 2017 fight.
Whoever the opponent, GSP is close to returning and gives UFC a new pay-per-view draw to work with at a time when they are few and far between.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I’m glad that they finally worked out a deal. With the current landscape of McGregor holding out for a Mayweather fight and Ronda Rousey possibly not fighting again, UFC needed someone to prop up pay-per-view this year and GSP will be a big help. I personally like the idea of a Nate Diaz match. It is fresh and can move either of them towards a future fight with Conor McGregor. I would give GSP at least one fight before giving him a title shot just to make sure he still has the fight in him after four years away. Look for UFC to book an event in Montreal late in the year as the market has suffered greatly since his departure.
WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Conor McGregor is on the cover of the spring edition of GQ magazine. You can read the viber story online here.
-Floyd Mayweather is denying yesterday’s story that he and McGregor have come to financial terms on a fight claiming that he is happy retired.
-McGregor had requested an in-person re-hearing with the NAC regarding his punishment for last year’s virtue throwing incident at a UFC 202 press conference. The board will vote on March 22 on whether they will grant the request or not. (SOURCE)
-Former World Series of Fighting Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion David Branch has signed with UFC according to MMA Fighting.
-James Moontsari has announced his retirement from MMA. Moontsari is 28 and said he is starting a “new chapter” in his life.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)