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Despite UFC return, Georges St-Pierre still a part of MMAAA: ‘I am not a coward’

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Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre Press Conference Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Georges St-Pierre may officially be back under the UFC umbrella, but that hasn’t changed his desire to see change in the sport.

St-Pierre stated unequivocally Monday on The MMA Hour that despite his Octagon comeback, he remains a committed member and supporter of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), the fledging association launched by he and four other UFC fighters in November which seeks to level the playing field between the UFC and its athletes.

“A lot of guys are fighting and they’re still part of the association. One thing that I am not, I am not a coward,” St-Pierre explained. “And it’s not because I’m back in UFC that I’m going throw (away) all of these who had the courage to step up with me, and I’m going to let them down. I’m not like that.

“What I said was true, what I believe. I believe some of the fighters, they don’t have their fair share of the pie. And I still do believe it.”

St-Pierre, 35, was a founding member of the MMAAA, which launched last year with the support of fellow UFC fighters Cain Velasquez, Donald Cerrone, T.J. Dillashaw, and Tim Kennedy. The group announced its presence with a primary objective of bringing UFC fighters together under one association in order to improve the revenue disparity between athletes and the promotion, and ultimately negotiate a collective-bargaining agreement with the UFC.

Considering St-Pierre’s status as one of the most popular and successful fighters in the sport’s history, the former champion’s involvement with the MMAAA served as a signal to many observers that St-Pierre had given up his pursuit of finding common ground with the UFC in order to once again compete. But according to St-Pierre, that was never the case.

“I didn’t see the association as me not coming back,” St-Pierre said. “I see the association as something that could work with UFC for the benefit of the fighters. And I still believe it, as it is today. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for UFC. In long run, it would be a good thing. I believe fighters need to upgrade their status.

“The thing, too, is UFC is a business, and of course a lot of fighters, sometimes they’re not very well represented and they sign bad deals. It’s not the UFC’s fault if [fighters] sign bad deals. Sometimes it’s because they make the wrong choice themselves. If you’re in business and the guy is ready to sign for peanuts, that’s not necessarily the UFC’s fault sometimes. It’s the fighter’s fault. So I think it’s up to the fighters to take the initiative for themselves as well. It goes both ways. I think the association can be positive for both sides.”

St-Pierre speaks from experience when it comes to negotiating deals. The Canadian icon first announced his desire to return to MMA in June 2016, however it took more than nine months and a roller-coaster of ups and downs before a renegotiated contract could be finalized with the UFC.

St-Pierre said the deal he ultimately signed — a new four-fight contract that kicks off with a title shot against UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping — was a way for he and the UFC to meet in the middle of both parties’ initial demands.

“To tell you truth, how it is, it’s not exactly what we wanted,” St-Pierre said. “It’s a little bit below what we really wanted in the beginning. But for the UFC, it’s more than what they were ready to give me. So we’re both unhappy in a way, which is the middle ground and I guess it’s a good thing. It’s like a settlement in court, right? If both parties are unhappy, I guess it’s a good thing.

“That’s how it is,” St-Pierre continued. “And also the love for the sport, I was excited, I wanted to be back. The emotional side of it made me go for it. We accepted the deal and I don’t regret it. I’m happy. I’m happy with what I do. If you ask me if it’s what we wanted originally, no it’s not; it’s a little bit low, but it’s still very good money, it’s still very close, and it’s apparently higher than what they were ready to give me. So like I said, we both made concessions on each part, not only on the one side, but on both sides, and that’s why the deal was made.”