Georges St-Pierre lawyers cite UFC inactivity as reason for nixing deal

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Opposing sides of a contract dispute between the UFC and former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre continued to dig their heels in Tuesday.

Earlier this week, St-Pierre, 35, publicly stated he had terminated his contract with the UFC, effectively making him a highly coveted free agent. Hours later, the UFC responded that St-Pierre remains under an exclusive contract.

Attorneys representing St-Pierre told ESPN on Tuesday their stance remains the same, despite the UFC's response. Jim Quinn of New York firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges said the fighter is able to terminate his deal because the UFC breached contract by not offering him a fight.

"Our position is the contract is terminated," Quinn said. "I suppose they could take legal steps against that or they could offer a new contract. They have a variety of options on their side."

St-Pierre (25-2) vacated the UFC welterweight title and walked away from professional fighting in 2013, but entered negotiations in February for a comeback fight in the UFC.

The Canadian star's contract, which was signed in 2011, presented several complications. For instance, the last time St-Pierre fought, the UFC did not have an exclusive apparel provider. In 2014, the promotion signed such a deal with Reebok, which creates a conflict with St-Pierre's independent apparel sponsors.

St-Pierre said those complications were in the process of being resolved, until the UFC announced it had sold to new owners WME-IMG for $4 billion in July. It was at that time, St-Pierre enlisted attorneys at Weil, Gotshal and Manges.

According to attorney Eric Hochstadt, St-Pierre has never received an actual bout agreement in 2016. The firm eventually set a 10-day deadline for the UFC to offer St-Pierre a fight. The UFC did not respond to the deadline until the final day, according to St-Pierre's side, with a "letter" that referenced a potential bout against former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

Lawler recently withdrew from a scheduled fight on Nov. 12 in New York.

"The UFC waited until the 11th-and-a-half hour to come back with bare bones information, that floated one fighter and nothing else," Hochstadt said. "No specifics at all in terms of fight date, venue, number of rounds. All we got, at the 11th hour, was a proposal for somebody. And as Georges said, we don't know if [Lawler is] ready and able to fight. All we know is he just pulled out of a fight.

"We were working through all the issues in play and had been squaring them away. One of them, no surprise, was the UFC has a Reebok deal that came in long after Georges' contract. We were working through those things, but ultimately, you've got to schedule a fight for your fighter. The UFC knows how to schedule fights. This is what they do every day. Send a bout agreement with all the specifics. They didn't do that here. Why they chose not to do that, I don't know."

During his interview on The MMA Hour on Monday, St-Pierre said he intended to take some time away from the stressful situation and did not reveal his next move.

Despite recent comments from UFC president Dana White suggesting the opposite, St-Pierre says he absolutely wishes to fight again.

"Georges wants to fight," Quinn said. "He's not ruling out the UFC. He just believes, at this stage, they had long enough under the old contract. Now he'll either fight for the UFC or somewhere else, but he's going to fight."