MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre is on the "verge of signing a new multi-fight contract" with the UFC, according to sources cited by Ariel Helwani of MMA FIGHTING. While St-Pierre's return fight has "yet to be finalized, the current plan is for him to compete later this year." Sources said that a return in Q3 of '17 is "currently being targeted." UFC officials "declined to comment on the impending deal," though, UFC President Dana White, and others, have "dropped some clues as of late." Both the UFC and St-Pierre have yet to "decide which division he'll compete in upon returning." St-Pierre's return will "provide a much-needed shot in the arm" for WME-IMG. With Conor McGregor currently "pursuing a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ronda Rousey's uncertain future, Brock Lesnar's retirement and Jon Jones' suspension, the organization needs a star like St-Pierre now more than ever." The new deal will "put an end to a three-year saga between the UFC and St-Pierre that dates back to UFC 167" in November '13 (MMAFIGHTING.com, 2/15). In Vancouver, E. Spencer Kyte notes St-Pierre last fall "declared himself a free agent" and joined fellow fighters in "launching the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association." While he "petitioned to be added to the UFC 206 fight card in Toronto, the two sides couldn’t come to a deal" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/16).
FIGHT CLUB: In N.Y., Kenneth Lovett wrote MMA has been a "knockout so far in New York." A new analysis commissioned by the UFC found that UFC 205 at MSG, the first professional MMA event in the city, "far exceeded economic projections." Another event was "held recently in Albany, and one is scheduled for Buffalo on April 8" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/13).
In Winnipeg, Paul Wiecek notes the NHL is shifting its "strategy from denying the facts of CTE to launching a broadside at the researchers who are doing the groundbreaking and absolutely crucial research responsible for those (inconvenient) facts." The NHL last week "filed court papers" demanding researchers at Boston Univ. "turn over what sounds like nearly every scrap of research they’ve put together on the subject." The NHL’s move here has "nothing to do with science and everything to do with sending a chilling message to the Boston researchers" that the NHL will "make their lives very difficult if they persist in, well, telling the truth about CTE" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 2/16).
CALLING OUT GOODELL: In San Antonio, Peggy Fikac notes Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are "teaming up against the NFL." Patrick yesterday echoed Abbott's sentiments from earlier this week on conservative Laura Ingraham’s radio program that the NFL should stay out of politics. He said of Commissioner Roger Goodell, "Does he support boys and girls showering together in the 10th grade? Is that what the NFL is for? If Roger Goodell is worried about our bill, then why doesn’t he announce that next season, every stadium in the NFL is going to allow men in the ladies’ room? I don’t think that would fly with any of the NFL owners" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 2/16).
FOLLOW THE LEADER? TSN.ca's Rick Westhead reported the NHLPA has "hired a team of lobbyists to fight a proposed change to workers’ compensation law in Illinois that would affect" Blackhawks players. Two NHL player agents, who asked not to be identified because they both have clients on the Blackhawks, said that they would "advise their players not to sign with Chicago if the senate bill is passed." The Blackhawks "signalled their support for the proposed law in a Jan. 27 letter to state senators" (TSN.ca, 2/15).