After 28 professional fights, a career that started in January 2002, Georges St-Pierre (GSP) announced his retirement from mixed martial arts on Thursday 21st February 2019.
Georges is one of few MMA fighters to have captured the hearts of fans across the world. He was a star in the UFC and many consider GSP to be the greatest-of-all-time (GOAT).
It’s hard to convey in just one article about who Georges was and what made him different to everybody else. You could argue that GSP had a likeness to Bruce Lee, that “it” factor that couldn’t keep you away.
What did GSP have to say about his retirement?
A press conference was called by the UFC on Thursday. Speaking with the media, St-Pierre made it very clear that he wanted a fight with current UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Many possible deals were discussed between all parties. For example, the idea of a Catchweight bout was brought up.
Unfortunately, it appears as though the UFC weren’t interested in Georges fighting Khabib for the belt, and potentially taking it away from the Russian. This could perhaps be because Georges did not want to commit to subsequent agreements after the fight.
Georges seemed content and at peace with his decision, having stated that “there’s no tears. I’m very happy to do it” and that “It takes a lot of discipline to retire on top. It was a long process in my mind, but it’s time to do it. Only a few people have done it”.
Georges expressed that he wanted to retire on his my own accord and not “be told to retire”. St-Pierre also felt that he had “the discipline and the wisdom to” retire whilst he was ahead.
Why was Georges a super star?
Globally GSP was a star. He could sell a boat load of pay-per-views in America and have fans in Europe waking up at ungodly hours just to watch him fight. I myself was one of those crazy European fans. I’m rather ashamed to say, the first GSP fight that I “stayed up” for was against Josh Koscheck but, just as both fighters made their walk’s to the octagon, I fell asleep.
However, in Canada especially Georges was a super star and a national treasure. For example, St-Pierre was voted Canadian Athlete of the Year three times consecutively between 2008 and 2010. The second biggest gate in UFC history was thanks to GSP where he took on Jake Shields at the Rogers Centre in front of 55,724 fans.
GSP currently holds the accolade of the 3rd most title defences in UFC history with 9 to his name. He is one of only six fighters to have won titles in two different weight classes.
FiveRoundWar’s best GSP moments
Technically, the first UFC event I ever watched was UFC 109 headlined by Randy Couture. But, I would liken this to the first years of your life where in hindsight, you remember very little and can’t really explain the experiences that you had.
UFC 111, however, was one of the first events where the penny started to drop for me in terms of understanding the sport. This infamous card was headlined by GSP who took on British fighter Dan Hardy for the UFC Welterweight belt.
After seeing Georges beat Dan from pillar to post with his wrestling it enlightened me to a whole new world of fighting. I remember asking myself questions like “how did he do that?”, “is wrestling classed as a martial art?” and “why did Dan seemingly have no defence?”.
This was a factor that prompted me to begin training in traditional Jiu-Jitsu not long after watching this event. I am now a purple and white belt in Jiu-Jitsu, although I have not trained for many years. But, this serves as an example of how Georges influenced everyday people into participating in the sport and the various disciplines within MMA.
I was captivated by mixed martial arts in general but GSP became someone whose career I ended up following up until now almost 10 years later. He had some unforgettable moments on the Ultimate Fighter TV series. He coached alongside Josh Koscheck. Georges famously stated that he was “the typical good guy” and that Josh was the “typical bad boy”.
Josh gave GSP a lot of stick throughout the series and took every opportunity to try and rattle the Canadian. Koscheck once made it seemingly impossible for Georges to get in his own car by having members of team Koscheck park their cars way too closely beside GSP’s. St-Pierre was unfazed by these antics and went on to beat Josh for a second time at UFC 124.
In short, Georges St-Pierre was a true martial artist. A nice guy, who everyone wanted to win. At the same time, he wasn’t a pushover and would stand-up for himself. These personal characteristics made him easy to look up to. Many have been influenced by George’s actions that they too have become involved in some way with MMA. Ariel Helwani can be an example of this, who credits George for peaking his interest in the sport and swaying his decision to pursue a career in MMA journalism.
It’s safe to say that St-Pierre will be sorely missed by many in the sport. This can already be evidenced by the out pour of support for Georges across social media.