After more than three years, Georges St-Pierre might step into the Octagon again.
The former UFC welterweight champion is close to signing a new deal with the organization he walked away from after fighting Johny Hendricks in November 2013, according to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
After months of negotiations, a new multi-fight deal is on the table, though it hasn’t been signed yet. But St-Pierre could fight as early as later this year, according to Helwani’s report.
At 35, St-Pierre is widely considered the greatest welterweight of all time at 25-2. When he stepped away from the UFC more than three years ago, he had won 12 fights in a row.
But St-Pierre’s return could come at a great time for the UFC, since many of its biggest names – all of them headliners for the promotion’s most lucrative events – are embroiled in a laundry list of issues.
Conor McGregor, the promotion’s biggest star, is chasing a boxing match with retired great Floyd Mayweather and risks trouble with his UFC contract, that has him pegged for four more fights.
Jon Jones, the 29-year-old light heavyweight with a 22-1 record and widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter, should be a draw for the UFC if it wasn’t for his trouble outside the cage. Most recently Jones was suspended for a failed drug test last fall that is expected to expire this year. But even with a return, White has said he’d never risk Jones headlining a pay-per-view show again, according to MMA Fighting’s Dave Doyle.
Brock Lesnar recently said he’s done with MMA after popping for the estrogen blocker clomiphene following a return victory over Mark Hunt after five years away from the UFC. Lesnar made a quick return to the WWE two months later.
And Anderson Silva might be closing in on the end of his UFC career at 42 years old, though a recent win over Derek Brunson could be a sign it’s not over just yet.
Cris Cyborg Justino, a relative newcomer to the UFC but already considered one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters, is dealing with her own yearlong suspension for a drug violation.
There’s been no word from St-Pierre himself on his return, though his camp hasn’t been silent on his potential return. Rumors have flown during his retirement of potential bouts against middleweight champ Michael Bisping or even McGregor.
Attempts to contact St-Pierre, his manager and his gym, Tristar, and were not immediately returned.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett