Has The Georges St. Pierre Era Come to an End? MMA Star’s Not Committing to Octagon Return
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although in hindsight the writing has been on the wall for some time now, fans didn’t know for certain until today, whether Georges St. Pierre was in fact going to step away from the UFC and his storied career. While in Quebec City earlier Friday, St. Pierre announced on a media call that he has vacated the welterweight title and isn’t sure when and if he’ll fight again.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time, at a high level, and it’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, and I’ve decided that I need to take time off,” the 32 year-old fighter confirmed. “I know the UFC is a business, and it can’t wait on (one person), they have to keep things rolling, so I’ve vacated my title (out of) my respect for the other competitors. One day, when I feel like it, I might come back, but right now I need a break.”
Although St. Pierre relayed similar sentiments approximately one month ago, there was speculation that perhaps, the star would return to rematch Johny Hendricks in the coming months. UFC President Dana White had said he was optimistic the bout would get signed, and considering the controversy the UFC 167 fight had created, it was hard to fathom that the rematch wouldn’t happen.
“People don’t understand that the situation I am at, it’s a lot of pressure,” St. Pierre furthered during the call, while discussing his decision. “It’s like every fight I’m carrying weight on my shoulders, and every fight it’s like you add weight on your shoulders, and every fight you add weight, you add weight. At one point it becomes so heavy that I have a hard time carrying it myself.”
“So in order to keep my mental equilibrium, you know physically I’m 100%, I’m still young, I’m on top of the world, but mentally, I just feel like I cannot go through another training camp right now, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to,” added St. Pierre. “So I don’t want to make people wait. Out of respect for the UFC…they made me who I am right now in the sport, so if one day I feel ready, I’m going to come back.”
Although White was highly critical of the judge’s decision at UFC 167, and initially he seemed bothered by St. Pierre’s plans to step away, the UFC President was supportive of his decision today.
“I agree with Georges 100%,” said White during the call. “Listen, we sat down and talked with him and he said, ‘listen, I have a lot of personal issues I’m dealing with right now, and I can’t even imagine going into another training camp. It will drive me crazy’ and all these things. So I agree with him.”
“This is fighting man, and you have to be 100% mental, physical, emotional, if you’re not, you should sit on the sidelines and wait until you get your stuff cleared up,” added White, who later on in the call announced that Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight title at UFC 171 on March 15th. “I think it’s the right move.”
During the call, St. Pierre cited the pressures that come with being champ as a key reason for his departure, but he also admitted that personal issues played a factor.
“A lot of these things is part of my personal life, I keep my personal life personal, and that’s it, that’s all,” St. Pierre said. “I need to do stuff and that’s personal.”
GSP also noted that he believes “one day that I will come back”, but when pressed for further details, the Tristar fighter carefully navigated the question.
“If I give you a date, I immediately put myself back into a date, into pressure…It has to be on my terms. I don’t know when, I don’t know if. I don’t know, I think I will. I can’t say 100%, but right now I don’t want the people thinking about me.”
So, it looks as though for the foreseeable future, the UFC and MMA will have to move forward without one of it’s biggest stars. In fact, there’s a chance the St. Pierre era, one that featured him defending the welterweight title a record nine times in a row, has come to an end.