Astance perpetually peddled out by the UFC whenever any big name leaves the organisation or the sport altogether, is that no individual is bigger than the establishment. Perhaps that attitude needs some serious reconsideration, though, especially when it comes to fighters with the gravitas of welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre.
The Canadian is now a free agent – or so it appears anyway. In short, he revealed to the MMA Hour last week that he believes his UFC contract has been terminated after a deadline passed for them to offer him a fight.
Of course, the UFC responded in a typically dismissive manner stating the contrary and the dispute looks set for court – unless a compromise can be reached. In all likelihood, though, we’re back to 2013 and we’ve probably seen the last of GSP in the Octagon.
“I don’t dislike the UFC,” StPierre explained. “The UFC does what is in the best of their interest. Dana White (UFC president), he’s the best promoter in the world.
“He is the greatest of all time. We wouldn’t make mixed martial arts for a living if it would not be for Dana White. He took the UFC when it was small and he took it and he raised the bar for everyone of us. But now in this situation, unfortunately, he’s against me because of the business interests.
“I don’t dislike Dana White. Because a big part of what I do and what I have earned is because of Dana White. I’m entering unknown water, unknown territory. I just don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
GSP would be perfect guy to challenge UFC contract in court. Financially secure, well known, doesn't need to fight, comes off as reasonable.— Chad Dundas (@chaddundas) October 17, 2016
Nobody does really but to get to the heart of the matter who really suffers here? Naturally, the fans are the ones who lose out with GSP initially slanted to make his return from a three-year hiatus at UFC 206 in Toronto on December 10.
The other loser is the UFC because they need GSP far more than he needs them. The 35-year-old does not need to fight again. He does not need the money, he does not need to prove anything to anyone. Regardless of what the future has in store, his legacy is secure.
For the UFC, though, having just sold for $4billion, there is a weighty debt attached to that for new owners WME-IMG and that has already brought about mass cuts in a top-to-bottom reshuffle. Can they really afford to let their one of their most bankable stars walk away, either into indefinite retirement or to a burgeoning rival like Bellator MMA?
His Canadian counterpart Rory MacDonald has already made the move to the Viacom-backed promotion and with GSP on board, too, they would generate big business in their home nation. The five pay-per-view cards headlined by the Quebec-born fighter in Canada have averaged 750,000 buys and includes a massive stadium show at Rogers Centre which brought 55,000 fans for a record gate of more than $12m.
Even fellow fighters recognise his worth with light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier revealing his concern that the card he will headline in GSP’s absence will suffer financially – and that’s an event only one injury away from looking like one of the weakest PPV’s in recent memory.
At this point, the UFC needs GSP back and for two reasons. One, a lengthy court battle would unearth the business practices St-Pierre’s lawyer described as a “21st century form of slavery”, and two, the monetary hit they will take by not having him on that card in December. Perhaps it’s wise that they also remember that should it go to the courts, GSP is undefeated when it comes to a judge’s decision.
In the end, a resolution somewhere down the middle makes sense, but make no mistake about it, the Candian is in the favourable position.
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