Georges St-Pierre’s negotiations with the UFC weren’t just about money. Who St-Pierre would be fighting during his comeback run was a big part of the discussions, per GSP’s boxing coach Freddie Roach, who assisted the negotiations.
“The game plan was go to go in and get the best fights for Georges at the right time,” Roach told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I think we ended up doing that.”
St-Pierre’s negotiations with the UFC and new parent company WME-IMG stalled last year. GSP mentioned his situation with Roach, his longtime boxing coach. So Roach, who has known WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel for many years, said he would help try to broker something.
Roach brought in his own agent, Nick Khan of Creative Artists Agency, to help on the numbers and negotiations side. Roach said they met with UFC president Dana White twice in Las Vegas and it all came together well for both sides.
“We weren't looking to steal anyone away from anybody,” Roach said. “We just wanted to make the best deal we could for Georges. I do train him quite a bit and he’s a great guy. He needed some help. That’s what we did.
“It all worked out really well. Everyone was happy. At the end of the day, I think everyone was happy. We do have a great deal up there. I’m looking forward to getting Georges ready for these fights.”
Roach said he understands the UFC is a much different animal than most boxing promotions. The UFC decides on the matchups and they tell the fighters who they are fighting in many cases. St-Pierre didn’t seem to want it that way. He wanted to dictate his opponents in his comeback from more than three years away from the Octagon.
“In boxing, you have to wait for [the opponent] to say yes,” Roach said. “With the UFC, it’s up to them. They tell you and they dictate a lot. … We knew what Georges wanted going in and I think we got him what he wanted.”
While Roach implied that St-Pierre’s first opponent — and perhaps more — has already been hammered out, he said he could not divulge who that would be. Though he did let slip that it might be a rematch.
“I’m sworn to secrecy,” Roach said.
St-Pierre (25-2), the former longtime UFC welterweight champion, will likely fight in the third or fourth quarter of 2017, Roach confirmed. GSP, 35, will have to be in the USADA drug-testing pool for at least four months from when the deal got made, so he would not be able to fight until June at the earliest, though it seems like it will be even later than that.
The Canadian star departed from the UFC and vacated his belt in December 2013 and has not fought since. He never stated he was officially retired and always left the window open for a return. White has been quoted multiple times saying St-Pierre would never fight again, but GSP has been in talks with the UFC to come back since early 2016.
Roach said GSP flew him up to Montreal last year for training and the legendary coach ended up being impressed with where he was at this stage.
“You can see things when people start slowing down as a trainer,” Roach said. “I will tell people to retire when they need to. At this point, I thought Georges had a lot more fights left in him.”
St-Pierre does not want to come back and just be another cog in the wheel, Roach said. He’ll attempt to be vying for a title again, at some point.
“We didn’t to come back just to come back,” Roach said. “We wanted to come back to be world champion. We wanted to be the best.”