Three months ago, news broke about the UFC shutting down a supposed boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Georges St-Pierre. And even at that time, it was evident that there was a lot to unravel from this story.
A few tidbits of details began sprouting out in the succeeding months. One was that the fight was supposed to be for charity. Another was that there was a special ruleset planned to make the bout “less dangerous.” But perhaps the most crucial piece of information that connected the dots was that St-Pierre was apparently still in contract with the UFC, years after retiring.
During this week’s comeback episode of The MMA Hour, St-Pierre sat down with Ariel Helwani to spill all the details that happened behind the scenes. Most of it involved his conversations with UFC president Dana White.
St-Pierre first revealed White’s initial reason why he “hated” the idea of a De La Hoya fight.
I even called Lorenzo to try to convince Dana. Lorenzo liked the idea, but Dana did not want it. I knew he hate Oscar, but I said to him, ‘Listen, I’m gonna make Oscar look bad because I’m in great shape. I’ve been staying in great shape the whole time. And I’m gonna do a full boxing training camp with Freddie Roach and his world champions there. So I’ll be very well-prepared.’
At first, he says to me the reason why he didn’t want it is because that Oscar would basically destroy me in a boxing match. And I had some good arguments. I told him that I believe Oscar has more mileage than I do. He’s no longer in his prime.
I stayed busy the whole time, I’m still in great, great shape. I’m gonna be very well-prepared and I’m taking this fight very seriously. If I do it, it’s because it’s my name, my image attached to it, so I will do it 100%.
And I told Dana, I said ‘if there’s one MMA fighter that can go to boxing and look good in this situation, it would be me.’ Because we saw what happened with Ben Askren and some of the other guys.
St-Pierre says White took back his initial reason then came back with a new one.
He came back with the argument that, oh no, it’s not because thinks Oscar gonna win. He thinks it’s because he doesn’t like the fact that Triller take me and make money out of my back, while I’m still under contract with UFC.
The story doesn’t end here. As St-Pierre explained, White came back with a counter-offer, which he feels is a few years too late.
So what Dana says — listen to this — he came back and he asked me if I wanted to fight Khabib. I told Dana that’s very strange why you didn’t want to do the fight when we asked you a few years ago. Why is it now? He said, ‘Yeah, because Khabib was not retired and he was not the same guy that he was, now, it all makes sense.’
I said to him, ‘I’m gonna think about it.’ And I wait.
Turns out that shortly after, I saw in the media, people saying that, ‘Oh, now Khabib, he doesn’t want to fight me because I asked for the fight with Khabib.’
I never asked for the fight with Khabib, it’s Dana White that probably went to Khabib and Ali Abdelaziz and tell them ‘Georges want to fight Khabib.’ We asked a long time ago, but I didn’t ask again. I didn’t beg for that fight again. We’re both retired and I’m good.
The puzzling turn of events and the timing of the offer had St-Pierre come up with his own theories.
So I believe the strategy behind it because that’s what I thought was happening… Dana White (took) a lot of heat for not letting me fight (De La Hoya) from the media. So he asked me to fight Khabib because he was expecting a negative answer from me.
So he would’ve had a good argument, a good reason saying to the media ‘Georges refused to fight for us so I’m not gonna let him fight for someone else.’ So that’s the reason I waited to see what happened. And turns out that I was right, I believe.
Khabib refused but it didn’t mean that I was going to say yes. The promoter, that’s how they do, they make money out of it. Promoters and a lot of managers, they have a percentage of the money, so they make money out of fights. That’s what they do. And we know Dana is probably the best promoter of all time, in terms of how to promote a fight.
They wouldn’t have done it before because they thought they could have probably keep Khabib for more fights. They’d rather make less (money), but more fights with him than one big fight and that’s it. That’s what I believe.
St-Pierre, now 40, says he is still open to take a “novelty fight for charity” once he gets freed from his UFC contract in two years’ time.