It appears the date and venue for Georges St. Pierre’s comeback fight in the UFC is still far from a certainty.
The former welterweight champion recently told “UFC Tonight” that he was targeting UFC 206, which takes place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Dec. 10, for his prospective return. However, St. Pierre’s return largely hinges on his ability to negotiate a deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion, and so far there hasn’t been any news from either party on that front.
Tom Wright, general manager for UFC operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, believes that UFC 206 will be fine even if a native star like St. Pierre doesn’t headline the card.
"We don't need a Canadian necessarily to headline the event," Wright, who was in Australia to promote the Nov. 27 UFC Fight Night card, told Submission Radio. "The last event that we had in Canada did not feature around a Canadian, so frankly it's no different than here [in Australia]. Our fans are sophisticated fans in Canada and they're knowledgeable and sophisticated here in Australia. They want to see great fights, they want to see great competition and they'll see it in Toronto.”
UFC on Fox 21, the promotion’s last event in Canada, featured a welterweight showdown between Demian Maia, a Brazilian, and Carlos Condit, an American, in the main event. The last pay-per-view event in the country was UFC 186, which was topped by Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi for the flyweight title. While recent history supports Wright’s claim, no bouts have been announced for the Toronto event. For now, it appears the main focus is putting together the card for the UFC’s New York debut on Nov. 12.
"It's still a little bit early. We're trying to figure out the main event for UFC 205, obviously that's going to be a seminal event in Madison Square Garden in New York,” Wright said. “So once that's sort of cleared up, and that will happen in the next week or so, then we'll start to bring more closely into focus what's going to happen in Toronto.”
St. Pierre hasn’t fought since defeating Johny Hendricks via split decision at UFC 167 on Nov. 16, 2013. Shortly thereafter, the Tristar Gym standout vacated the welterweight belt and announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence. As talks of St. Pierre’s comeback have grown more serious, UFC President Dana White has repeatedly expressed doubts about the ex-champion’s desire to fight again. Wright, meanwhile, was a little more diplomatic, but did acknowledge that negotiations are ongoing.
"Well personally I'd love to see Georges come back, but I have been asked this question before and what I really want is for Georges to do what he wants to do,” Wright said. “He made the decision to walk away from this sport back in 2013, and should he decide to come back, I'd be the first person to welcome him back with open arms. Should he decide to continue hanging them up, then I'll salute that as well. It's completely up to Georges. We're trying to see if there's a contract that can be pulled together and his team are talking with our team, and if it's going to work out, it will work out.”