With the MLB playoffs in full swing, it’s somewhat ironic how the UFC, Georges St-PIerre and corporate changes are showcasing a new form of MMA Moneyball. Or perhaps better yet, MMA Hardball.
I’ve discussed at length that GSP’s return to the octagon was far from a foregone conclusion. It now appears that his urge to compete falls second to the business that is his brand. There were many reasons why he left the sport. A few of those reasons were corrected. But new ones arose during his absence, and thus, he now has more challenges to overcome.
It was no secret that Georges was tired of what he believed was a sport tainted with users of performance enhancing drugs. He tried to take a stand by proving he and the last man he faced, Johny Hendricks, were clean, buy exercising his right to use and be tested by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA). He said he would pay for all of Hendricks’ tests.
That idea failed for him, as it was spun to say that he was sponsored by VADA and problems with the former regime of the UFC to use VADA were stunted in a personal / political posturing.
He already had one foot out the door when he fought “The Big Rigg” and after the bout, made it pretty clear he was done. At the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White went off on him, effectively making Georges’ exit all but official.
Shortly thereafter, the walking ATM Machine unplugged himself from the wall, handing back his UFC Welterweight title.
Next thing you know, USADA and the UFC struck a deal. No doubt making Georges a happy camper. But then the UFC signed a deal with the Reebok. This didn’t make GSP jovial as he has a big deal with Under Armour and many, many other big brands. He thought long and hard about returning and it was truly a 50/50 split.
But the fire within himself to compete was never extinguished. And three years later, the kindling didn’t take much of a spark to ignite. The proverbial itch to return arose and Georges made the decision to figure it all out. Step one, enter into the USADA drug testing pool to ensure he would free and clear to fight at UFC 207 in Toronto.
But then stumbling blocks presented themselves. The UFC was sold. His main negotiating partner, Lorenzo Fertitta was no longer the big man in charge. A new relationship (sort of) had to be formed with Team GSP and Team UFC.
But the legal teams behind both parties are stringent with their negotiations and after a specific deadline was passed, Georges’ declared himself a free agent, stating his lawyer terminated his contract.
Hold on Big Boy. What do you know that the rest of the world doesn’t?
I’ve read UFC contracts before and they are iron clad. Mind you, the last one I reviewed was about eight years ago, but I can assure anyone and everyone, you just can’t walk away from them, especially if you have at least one fight on there.
Anyone that’s been around this sport for awhile knows all too well what Randy Couture endured trying to walk away from a UFC deal. It never happened. And it was u-g-l-y.
While it remains to be seen if the UFC and Georges are playing some sort of MMA Moneyball or Hardball, I’m going to simply look at history for now. What I’ve learned is that the UFC owns a fair amount of rights, one of which is that the contracts continue even if the UFC is sold.
Now, that’s not to say Georges may have had other clauses added or removed from his contract. I don’t know if this is fact and pure speculation on my part, but if I can make one (perhaps obvious) prediction, I will say this: if this is not resolved within the next week or so, I firmly believe Georges St-Pierre will not be fighting for the UFC anytime soon. Instead, he will most likely be fighting them in a courtroom.
And I’m not sure I like his chances.