Reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre -- still on the mend from a groin injury he suffered in his last successful title defense against Thiago Alves -- is targeting a likely January 2010 return to the octagon, his manager Shari Spencer told FanHouse.
The 28-year-old St. Pierre suffered the injury in the third round of the UFC 100 bout and gutted his way through the pain for the remainder of the five-round fight, earning a lopsided unanimous decision. In the aftermath, he feared a torn groin, but received a reprieve when doctors informed him the injury was not as serious as previously thought, and that no surgery was necessary. St. Pierre, who is hoping to gain clearance to return to full-contact sparring within the next two weeks, has recently been enjoying his downtime with a trip to Saint-Tropez, France.
"He's feeling well and just waiting for clearance to resume his full-contact training," Spencer said.
While no bout has yet been officially offered to St. Pierre, last month, UFC President Dana White announced that the winner of Sept. 19's UFC 103 matchup between Mike Swick and Martin Kampmann would be his next opponent. Given the rest time necessary for the winner of that contest coupled with St. Pierre's preference for a nine-week camp, it's likely that his next title defense will come in the early weeks of 2010.
The UFC hasn't officially announced any dates in the new year, but is expected to run pay-per-view events on both Jan. 2 and Jan. 30. The UFC views its New Year's weekend and Super Bowl weekend shows as two of its biggest events of the year.
"We have nothing firm, but it seems logical to me that he'd be on one of those two cards as they like to use Georges for their bigger events because of his draw," Spencer said.
In the meantime, St. Pierre is working on general sponsor support, filming an instructional DVD, and may sign on for a movie role next month. Spencer is also in negotiations for an endorsement deal with another high-profile, "bigger-than-the-sport" company to follow on the heels of GSP's successful run with Gatorade.
Spencer also confirmed that St. Pierre is not participating in next month's Abu Dhabi Submission Fighting World Championship. The tournament's website lists him as an entrant, but although he has previously competed in the respected grappling tourney, he will not compete at this year's edition, scheduled to take place in Barcelona.