Former UFC champion and mega-star Georges St. Pierre announced on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani this past Monday that he considered himself a free agent and was no longer under contract with UFC. The news came after St. Pierre hired New York-based lawyer James W. Quinn - a renowned trial attorney who specializes in sports litigation among other areas – to help him negotiate a new deal with the UFC after a three-year layoff. According to GSP, Quinn set a deadline for the UFC to offer GSP a fight and when that deadline passed without a deal, GSP claimed that Quinn informed him that his UFC contract was terminated and he was a free agent.
The primary point of contention between GSP and UFC appeared to be UFC’s new Reebok deal which disallows fighters from showcasing their own sponsors on UFC television, a deal that would cost GSP millions in sponsorship money. GSP reportedly believed that he had an existing contract which allowed for him to have his own sponsors, but was willing to abide by the Reebok deal so long as UFC increased his base salary to compensate for the lost sponsorship revenue. UFC in turn reportedly felt that after a lengthy layoff, it would require “a huge financial risk” on their part to re-introduce GSP to the UFC audience.
The UFC has denied GSP’s claim that he is no longer under contract and said in a statement released Monday night: "Georges St-Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his MMA promoter," the statement read. "Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St-Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St-Pierre do the same."
I’m told by sources close to the situation that prior to the time Quinn informed St. Pierre that he was a free agent, GSP’s management actually believed that a fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 206 on December 10 in Toronto was a done deal. I was told that there was even speculation that the card would be moved to the larger Rogers Centre to accommodate the expected demand once the GSP vs. Silva fight was officially announced.
The two sides reportedly remain at a standstill as of this writing, but Quinn told MMA Fighting that GSP still wants to fight and is still open to negotiating a new UFC contract. "It's really up to the UFC, whether they're willing to negotiate another contract or not," Quinn said.