Georges St-Pierre won’t grace the Octagon again as an active fighter, but don’t worry, he’s okay with that.
“It’s gonna be all right,” he laughed, shortly after making his official retirement announcement at Bell Centre in his hometown of Montreal. “It’s a new chapter.”
If anyone earned it, it’s the 37-year-old GSP, a former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion whose commitment to excellence led him to a 26-2 pro record over a 17-year career that included 20 victories in the Octagon. Not that he can choose just one of those bouts for his personal time capsule.
“Every fight I’ve had, they’re not perfect,” he said. “There are things that I’ve done that I wish I would have done different. So it’s hard to say. For every fight there are things that I would like to change, and for every fight there are things that I’ve liked that I’ve done.”
There was more to like than dislike over his storied run in the big show, from helping to bring the UFC to Montreal in 2008 and his headlining gig for over 55,000 fans at Rogers Centre in Toronto, to his bouts against a Who’s Who of the sport while champion of the welterweight division.
And what about his work in rematches, an underrated part of his story? He avenged his only two losses to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes (twice), and the second time around with BJ Penn and Josh Koscheck, he made sure he left no doubts on fight night.
But his last fight may have been the most memorable. Perhaps it was the fact that he had been on the sidelines for four years when he decided to face Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title in November 2017. Or that he was moving up 15 pounds to do so. Or that he had to survive a furious effort by “The Count” to take the victory.
The real reason may lie elsewhere.
“At the time of the Bisping fight, I had ulcerative colitis,” said St-Pierre. “I didn’t know what it was at the time; I just knew I had very severe cramps. So I kept training, and I said, ‘Man, even if it’s something very bad, I’m gonna fight through it and make this fight happen.”
He fought through it, made it Madison Square Garden and made history again as one of only a handful of fighters to win UFC titles in two weight classes. And when it was over, he stayed in the Octagon a little bit longer than usual, taking in the cheers with his team, perhaps knowing that this was his last fight. And that’s what he thought, but not because he was pondering retirement.
“I was like, maybe my health won’t permit me to do this again,” he said. “I had kind of a feeling.”
St-Pierre’s health improved, and one look at him during his Thursday press conference shows that he could probably hop on a plane to Prague and fight this weekend. But instead, he’s decided to walk his own path and do something so few fighters are able to do – leave on top.
“I didn’t have the same motivation I used to,” he said. “It goes with time.”
And while he’s already established as one of the sport’s all-time greats, time will likely elevate him and his accomplishments even higher. St-Pierre is already content with what he gave to the sport.
“I do look back,” he said. “I’m very happy, I’m satisfied. And when you’re satisfied, it’s a good indication that you need to take your retirement. It’s very apparent.”
He did joke during his press conference that the next step is vacation and going off the grid for a while, but when he returns, while there won’t be gloves on and a mouthpiece in, he’s not leaving MMA.
“I’m always gonna be in the sport, always gonna be around it, and if guys need my help, I’m always one phone call away,” St-Pierre said. “I’ll be training every day, twice a day and I’ll be in shape. Sometimes you don’t really know what you want in life, but if there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s to be out of shape and fat. I’m always gonna be in shape and in the gym.”
We would expect nothing less from GSP.