By Sean Ross Sapp
Georges St-Pierre has announced an indefinite leave from MMA. Following an avalanche of speculation, the Canadian born fighter announced he was calling it quits (at least for now) in a media conference on Friday, stating “I need to have a normal life for a bit.”
St-Pierre said on the call “I’ve talked with Dana and Lorenzo about it, been fighting a long time … It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism. I need to take some time off. One day, when I feel like it I might come back but I need a break. I vacate my title for the respect of the other competitors.”
Despite claiming he is physically healthy, GSP cited mental issues as the motivation for his leave. He will vacate the UFC Welterweight Title as a result. GSP will continue training at TriStar gym as usual, but will have a vacation from competing.
Johny Hendricks will now take on Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC Welterweight title at UFC 171 in Dallas, Texas.
UFC President Dana White, who following St-Pierre’s narrow decision victory over Johny Hendricks didn’t advocate the champion’s time off, changed his tone at the press conference, saying he thought it was the right choice to make.
The Ultimate Writer’s Take on GSP’s Hiatus
There is a very short list of those considered to be the greatest MMA fighters of all-time; Anderson Silva. Fedor Emelianenko. Jon Jones. Georges St-Pierre is on that list.
A 27-fight career has come to a halt following a controversial split decision victory over challenger Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Following the fight, GSP announced that he’d be taking time off from MMA, citing mental issues. This announcement did not draw the praise of UFC President Dana White, who reacted unfavorably.
With the speculation behind us, where does GSP rank among the greats? His resume is unmatched; 25-2, and would go on to avenge both losses (to Matt Huges and Matt Serra, respectively) in overwhelming fashion.
St-Pierre defeated wrestlers (Hendricks, Sherk, Koscheck, Shields, Hughes, Fitch). He defeated jiu jitsu wizards (Serra, Penn), Judokas (Karo Parisyan), hard hitting strikers (Alves, Hardy), masters of mind games (Diaz), and even teammates (Carlos Condit). The man has seen it all, beat it all, and should be respected unanimously for it.
Of late, however, GSP has seen a significant increase in damage he’s received throughout his fights. Coupled with a torn ACL suffered just over two years ago, and 32 years of age seems appropriate for St-Pierre to hang up the gloves.
A proven pay-per view draw, St-Pierre has also drawn criticism due to his inability or unwillingness to finish fights. It seems people forget his fights with Hendricks and Condit; both outstanding, both after having ACL reconstruction.
Despite the reconstruction and rehabilitation of his knee, and the challenges that faced him at Welterweight, for years GSP couldn’t escape the possibility of facing the much larger Anderson Silva in a super fight. For a man who claims he’s seen aliens, and spaces out while driving, the pressure in which he faced was surely unbearable. Only after Silva’s loss to Chris Weidman was GSP able to avoid the relentless hounding about the fight.
More than perhaps any fighter in UFC history, St-Pierre has had pressure. After ten years in the UFC, the man has seen it all. From humble pay-per view beginnings, to the not-so-humble pay per view boom of the last decade, to becoming a network television mainstay, GSP has been there.
The legacy in which GSP leaves extends beyond what any fighter can claim. He has no unavenged losses to his credit, nine consecutive title defenses, and unbeaten in almost 8 years.
The most impressive feat? Aside from dragging in monster PPV numbers, St-Pierre put 55,000 asses in seats in Toronto, Canada’s Rogers Centre at UFC 129. Believe me when I say those folks weren’t there to see Jake Shields.
GSP has been a traditionally predictable fighter, unlike his peers in Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, which is perhaps he isn’t viewed in the same regard. As a draw, he’s beyond the both of them. The UFC has needed GSP to fill the void left by Brock Lesnar, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and the like. It appears now as if the UFC has a new void to fill.
Follow Sean Ross Sapp on Twitter!