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Georges St-Pierre officially re-signs with UFC

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Georges St-Pierre explained the eye injury that has delayed his UFC return. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Georges St-Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion and a man widely considered to be the greatest 170-pound fighter to ever compete, is officially back under the UFC umbrella.

St-Pierre inked a new deal with the promotion on Friday, setting the stage for a return to the UFC more than three years after St-Pierre stepped away from the sport.

MMA Fighting confirmed the news Friday following an initial report by Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani previously reported on Wednesday that St-Pierre and the UFC were close to finalizing a new contract.

St-Pierre, 35, now returns to the same organization he ruled over from 2007 until 2013 as one of the most popular figures in the sport. He defended his UFC welterweight title nine consecutive times throughout his second title reign — a record for the division — culminating in a hard-fought split decision over Johny Hendricks in Nov. 2013.

After his victory over Hendricks, St-Pierre surprised many within MMA by vacating the belt and exiting the UFC on top, however he cautioned to never use the word “retired” to describe himself throughout his leave.

“Rush” first announced his desire to come back to MMA in June 2016 on The MMA Hour, revealing his desire to return to the Octagon and challenge UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping. What followed was a quagmire of contractual issues with the UFC that complicated that return, culminating in an Oct. 2016 interview on The MMA Hour during which St-Pierre announced that he was a free agent and had terminated his UFC contract.

Those fences were ultimately mended, however, and MMA Fighting reported Wednesday that St-Pierre is now targeting a UFC fight in the third quarter of 2017.

When he returns, St-Pierre (25-2) will hit the ground running on a 12-fight win streak that includes victories over Hendricks, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, B.J. Penn, Matt Hughes, and Jon Fitch, among others.

A two-time UFC welterweight champion and pioneer for Canadian MMA, St-Pierre will turn 36 years old this upcoming May.