Monday October 17th, 2016

The UFC and former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced on The MMA Hour that he is currently a free agent.

St-Pierre has been embroiled in a struggle with the UFC since electing to return to competition and entering the USADA testing pool, with an eye on fighting at UFC 206 in Toronto.

St-Pierre's title defense against Jake Shields at UFC 129 in the Rogers Centre in Toronto shattered attendance records at the time, with an estimated 55,724 Canadians on hand to see their countryman fight. It seemed like a no-brainer for St-Pierre to return at the 206 card in Toronto.

The big hurdle here has been money, as it seemingly is with all contracts. Before St-Pierre retired, the UFC wasn't regulating fighter apparel. Fighters were free to wear items from any supplier and could sport sponsors logos on their uniforms and in-ring attire for extra revenue. Since St-Pierre walked away after defeating Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, the UFC landscape has changed. Not only has the UFC been sold, but also it has partnered with Reebok in an apparel deal that has prevented fighters from wearing sponsorship logo.

Consequently, St-Pierre feels his current UFC contract underpays him under the new apparel rules because he lacks what was a major source of income for him, and many other fighters for that matter. The UFC seemed to be unwilling to renegotiate. There is also the issue of St-Pierre being an athlete sponsored by Under Armour. Though that likely wouldn't have prevented St-Pierre from fighting, it very well could have been another hurdle.

St-Pierre pointed to the new ownership group has a big reason the two sides weren't able to get a deal done, saying he felt confident he would be back and fighting if Lorenzo Fertitta were still an owner.

"It was a shock because we felt like we were making progress," said St-Pierre. "We were almost there."

According to St-Pierre, the new UFC ownership told him the cost of reintroducing him to the new MMA fan base. It's a baffling claim given both his track record in the cage and when it comes to selling tickets in Canada.

"I don't take it personal," St-Pierre said. "I found it a little bit funny to tell you the truth. I know it's a lie. Sometimes I start to ask myself if they started to believe what they're saying.

"It would have been a win-win situation. I think now what happened with this situation, the biggest loser is the fans. I'm a loser. Even the UFC is a loser. They would have made good money."

UFC president Dana White has been adamant that St-Pierre is not returning to fighting, even questioning the fighter's mental state and readiness for a fight and officially ruling him out of UFC 206.

“‘GSP’s’ not fighting in Toronto,” White told “Jay and Dan” on Fox Sports 1. “I don’t think he does [fight again]. There’s a certain mentality you have to have to be a fighter, and Georges St-Pierre hasn’t had that mentality for a long time. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Listen, the guy went out on top. How many athletes really go out on top? Go out the way you want to go out? The guy made a lot of money and when you take—this isn’t a sport you take a three-year layoff from.”

While St-Pierre said he is free to sign with another MMA organization, like Bellator, he would take a few months off after what has been a draining and public negotiation process with the UFC.

"The reason I wanted to go back and fight is because I feel right now that I'm at my best," St-Pierre said. "I'm truly confident I can beat the guys that are champions right now. I'm that confident. 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."

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.