Georges St-Pierre has officially signed a new fight agreement with the UFC, company President Dana White told the Los Angeles Times on Friday, giving the organization a bona fide pay-per-view headliner to cushion the absence of Conor McGregor.
"He's back. I'm excited," White said. "We worked at it for a long time and finally got it done."
St-Pierre (25-2), the former welterweight champion who left the UFC after a grueling 2013 fight against Johny Hendricks and criticized the organization's drug screening then, does not have a return date or opponent yet.
"It could be the winner [of the March 4 welterweight title fight] between Tyron Woodley and Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson, or it could be [middleweight champion] Michael Bisping," White said. "Georges has also talked about fighting at 155 pounds [lightweight]. He says he can make the weight.
"But I have no idea when he's going to fight right now. We don't have anything booked and literally haven't talked to anybody about it."
The return of St-Pierre helps the UFC cope with the absence of popular lightweight champion McGregor, who is awaiting the spring birth of his first child and is believed to be out until September, and the possible retirement of former women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
St-Pierre was the UFC's top pay-per-view draw and a dominant force in the UFC from 2006 to 2013, losing only once after taking the belt from Matt Hughes in Sacramento at UFC 63 in November 2006.
Other than a stunning upset loss to Matt Serra that he avenged, St-Pierre was on an 11-bout title-fight winning streak — with victories over the likes of Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, BJ Penn and Hughes again — when he walked away following the Hendricks' triumph.
The deal for his return was signed Thursday, White said.
White had long expressed skepticism that St-Pierre, 35, would fight again, even though the fighter has steadily trained near his home and with boxing trainer Freddie Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
St-Pierre seemed to be risking widening the divide by aligning with a recently organized fighters association headed by former Bellator head Bjorn Rebney.
But with the UFC having joined with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to tighten its drug-testing policy, and with White's business sense guiding him, the sides moved closer.
White said two friends of St-Pierre whom he refused to identify played a key role in brokering an agreement to bring St-Pierre back.
"Two guys who care about Georges came to me and said, 'Do you want to a deal?' I said, 'Yeah, I want to a deal.' We got it done," White said.