Georges St-Pierre is without a doubt the greatest Welterweight of all time, and may be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport’s young history. After a glitch against Matt Serra in 2007, St-Pierre went on a spree and absolutely cleaned out the division, rattling off 12 wins in a row. He had some gamed opponents, but his victories were never questioned until the 12th and final one to Johnny Hendricks.
Most MMA pundits feel as though Hendricks won the fight 48-47 (3 rounds to 2). It was not an absolute robbery as we’ve seen far more outrageous decisions, but Hendricks should have gotten his hand raised. Following the controversial victory, much to the dismay of Dana White, St-Pierre announced that he was taking a break from MMA. The announcement didn’t come as that much of a surprise as there had been grumblings around his camp that this would be his last fight for a while. His old manager Stephane Patry was the first to bring up this notion, but it was then echoed by his long time friend and mentor Kristof Midoux.
St-Pierre has not competed in nearly a year now and the debate still rages on as to whether “Rush” should make a comeback, or hang up his gloves for good. There are plenty of good reasons as to why he should comeback and fight, but the bad reasons outweigh the good reasons in this conundrum.
10 He Doesn't Owe Anyone Anything
When St-Pierre announced that he would be taking a hiatus in the center of the octagon in his post fight interview, to say that Dana White was a bit flustered would be like saying Fran Descher’s laugh is only a bit annoying. The “Baldfather” went off: “You owe it to the fans, you owe it to the belt, you owe it to this company, and you owe it to Johnny Hendricks to give him that opportunity for him to fight again."
St-Pierre doesn’t owe anybody anything. If he’s only lukewarm to the idea of fighting again, and gets badly injured in a rematch, it’s not the fans, White or Hendricks that will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
Monetary wise, if we’re going to talk about owing, nobody owes less than GSP as he’s generated more money than any other fighter in terms of pay per view revenue.
9 A Second ACL Surgery
St-Pierre was forced to bow out of his original matchup with Carlos Condit in 2011 when he tore his ACL while training. He was out for over a year and it was a long and tumultuous road back. During his training camp, St-Pierre contends that training partners that he used to dominate were getting the better of him and that he was very close to calling his second scheduled date with Condit off. He eventually came to form and won a decision victory over a very tough Condit.
Even though he’s won 3 fights since the surgery (the controversial win against Hendricks being one of them), 50% of the strikes he’s received throughout his entire career have come in his last 3 fights. Earlier this year, he tore the ACL in his other knee. How much more will he slow down after a second surgery?
It should be noted that the UFC footed the bill for the second surgery when they technically didn’t have to, as St-Pierre’s contract was frozen. If we’re going to call out the UFC when they’re evil, we have to commend them when they do something admirable, fair is fair!
8 Financially Set
It seems like yesterday that GSP was reclaiming his gold against Matt Serra in 2007 at UFC 83. But in reality, we’re now all the way up to UFC 178 and St-Pierre held onto the Welterweight Championship for over 6 years.
Over this 6 year span, St-Pierre has accumulated a lengthy list of sponsors as many companies are eager to attach their name to him due to his squeaky clean image. He’s been sponsored by notable brands such as NOS Energy Drink, 888Poker, Affliction, Electronic Arts, Royer, and had a deal with Gatorade for a year. He currently has a net worth of $25 million and much of that sum has come from those sponsors.
It’s also not like he was making “chump change” for his title defenses either. On TSN 690 Radio, host Tony Marinaro asked one of St-Pierre’s coaches (Jon Chaimberg) how much he would be making for his title defense against Johnny Hendricks. Chaimberg wouldn’t provide exact numbers, but said it would be over $5 million.
7 Young Man's Game
There’s such a small window of opportunity to leave your mark in this sport, as injuries through rigorous training and in the actual fights start to accumulate. GSP is 33 years old, which doesn’t sound all that old. But you have to consider that he’s been fighting since 2002.
As it stands at this moment, 6 of the 9 UFC champions are under the age of 30, and none of them are over the age of 32. Combined with a year of inactivity, how much more does St-Pierre have left in the tank?
6 Too Concerned with Other Fighter's Using Performance Enhancing Drugs
He has cited a multitude of reasons for his partial retirement, but the main reason is because he feels that there is a drug problem in the sport: "The system is not in place. There are no guidelines. The way they test now, it's not good. It's not good the way they test. If you get caught on steroids right now, it's because you're very disorganized. It's so easy to beat the test. It's ridiculous. It's not a real test."
St-Pierre is insinuating the current state of drug testing is a joke and that anyone can pass a drug test if they know it's coming. This is also because the commissions don't do Olympic style drug testing via blood tests and there are certain banned substances that can go undetected solely based on a urine sample.
To the athletic commission's credit, in the past year, they have had much more sophisticated testing as we've seen many fighters get suspended and/or physically shrink (see Alistair Overeem and Vitor Belfort). They have also banned testosterone replacement therapy, and they now test for banned substances such as EPO, and human growth hormone. But this is only the beginning, by the time the sport is entirely cleaned up (if it ever is, people seem to always find ways to cheat), St-Pierre will be way too old to compete.
5 Head Shots/Mental Health
In the post fight press conference at UFC 167, St-Pierre certainly had some disturbing comments: "My brain got bashed left and right inside my skull." When asked for an explanation as to why he was taking a hiatus: "I'm going crazy in my head." His mental health isn't all that great either as weeks after the fight, he stated that he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The fact that he suffers from OCD and had some alarming comments after the fight is surely not concrete evidence that GSP has suffered brain damage. But some red flags do need to go up. On Joe Rogan's podcast he was talking about losing bits of time: "Sometimes, I'm looking at the clock. And it's like I wake up and I look at the clock right after, and it's like the clock advanced like 4, or 2 hours. There's a time zone that I don't remember what happened." He attributes this notion to potentially a third-type encounter (aliens).
As mentioned above, St-Pierre has abstained half his career damage in his last 3 fights. The fact that he's talking about losing bits of time and alien encounters is not normal. Yours truly is not a neurologist, but even Dr. Seuss would be a bit curious.
4 His Coaches Aren't on Board
St-Pierre's long time mentor (Kristof Midoux) had openly stated that he doesn't think GSP should fight again. He was strong on this stance even before the Hendricks fight. Many people say: "Kristoff who?!" Midoux has been with St-Pierre since day 1 of his career. GSP was a long time fan of the French Heavyweight and pleaded with him to train him. St-Pierre admitted there was one problem, he had no money...Midoux responded with: "it's okay, neither do I." When you get successful, as Dana White maintains, you have to watch out for the "cling ons." Midoux is certainly not a cling on as he's been by GSP's side since the beginning, It would be difficult for St-Pierre to continue without his blessing.
St-Pierre's world famous boxing coach, Freddie Roach, has also stated that if St-Pierre takes 2 years off like he plans, he will not work with the former champ: "'Lets stick with one year for now, see how you feel after a year and if you feel hungry enough to get back in there we'll do it. If not, we'll call it a day."
It's tough enough to come back from inactivity as it is, but doing so without the support of your coaches is a real stretch.
Nobody wants to see a great fighter hang on too long. Take Chuck Liddell for example, despite all his accomplishments in the sport, fans still have disheartening images of him getting knocked out cold by shots that he would have simply eaten in his prime. A boxing instance would be Muhammad Ali, the greatest ever. People still have visions of Larry Holmes whaling on him in the corner, looking at the ref to stop the fight.
Fans tend to idolize fighters and to see their hero get beat down leaves a tarnishing image in their minds, and more importantly, a great fighter receives an unnecessary beating.
2 Rory MacDonald
GSP and the #2 ranked Rory MacDonald have been training partners (at Tristar Gym) and friends for years. Despite being badgered by the media and UFC brass, the two have maintained that they will never fight each other. This was a more difficult task for MacDonald, because St-Pierre was the one with the belt. It's easy for the champion to say he's not going to fight his friend, but when MacDonald has trained his whole life to be a world champion, it's extremely difficult to just say "no thanks." The respect that the young MacDonald has shown St-Pierre has been noble and quite admirable.
If all goes as planned, MacDonald will lock up a title shot within a year. Many fans (including yours truly) believe that Rory will beat either Hendricks or Robbie Lawler in a rematch when the time comes. If MacDonald is the champion, St-Pierre will have to reciprocate the same respect and honour their pact not to fight each other. If he can't fight for the belt and prove that he's still the best in the word, then what's the point?
1 Nothing Left to Prove
This isn't like Rocky 6 where Stallone is slumped in his corner, and his son tells him: "You have nothing left to prove!" St-Pierre has actually done everything there is to do in the sport and has 0 to prove.
Some of his career accolades include the most UFC wins of all time (19), most Welterweight Title defences (9), which is the 2nd most defences in any division, second behind Anderson Silva. Another interesting stat, and maybe an indicator that it's time to move on, is that he's spent more time in the octagon than any other fighter (5:28:12).
It’s not as if he’s going to be sitting around staring at the walls either. What he’s proven inside the octagon has also enabled him to have opportunities outside of the octagon, notably on the big screen. He’s appeared in movies such as Never Surrender, Hell’s Chain, Death Warrior, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Kickboxer that’s slated to come out in 2015.
Georges, it’s been real, enjoy the retirement!