Mixed martial arts legend Georges St. Pierre, long-reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion, says he's free and clear of his UFC contract. However, UFC parent company Zuffa begs to differ.
Monday, on the “MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, St. Pierre stated that his lawyers had finagled a way for “Rush” to get out of his UFC contract, after a long and public negotiation with the UFC surrounding whether or not the 35-year-old welterweight great would return to action at UFC 206 in Toronto. Last week, UFC President Dana White said that the deadline had passed for St. Pierre to sign on for the card scheduled for Dec. 10 at the Air Canada Centre, while the former promotional star took this as a new lease on his professional life.
St. Pierre contends that is now a free agent upon the advice of lawyer James Quinn, whom he hired to review and evaluate the terms of his existing Zuffa contract. St. Pierre told Helwani that the UFC offered him a bout with former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, but owing to the fact that Lawler was not planning on fighting and had recently pulled out of a slated bout with Donald Cerrone scheduled for UFC 205 on Nov. 12 in New York City, that his contract was now void.
“You heard it right,” St. Pierre told Helwani. “I’m a free agent. My lawyer terminated the contract with the UFC.”
"I'm truly confident I can beat the guys that are champions right now, I'm that confident,” he continued. “At least I'm a free man. Now, I know I'm free: I have other options. I'm not caught up legally with a contract; I'm a free man.”
Late Monday, the UFC sent out a press release to counter St. Pierre's claims, re-asserting that MMA's all-time 170-pound kingpin is still under Zuffa contract.
"Georges St. Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his MMA promoter," the release stated. "Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St. Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St. Pierre do the same."
St. Pierre has not fought since November 2013, when he successfully defended his UFC welterweight title over Johny Hendricks in a hotly-contested split decision at UFC 167. Following the bout. St. Pierre vacated his title without explicitly saying that he would retire, stating that he wanted to “step away” from the sport of MMA “for a little bit.”