UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre should be applauded, not ridiculed, for his decision to step away from the sport.
Georges St-Pierre (GSP) is arguably the UFC’s most recognizable and liked fighter. Since losing the title in a shocking loss to Matt Serra back in April 2007, GSP has been on an absolute tear—dominating opponents through perhaps the greatest mixture of positioning, physicality and gameplan the sport has ever seen. Though most MMA critics believe that Johny Hendricks clearly beat GSP in their bout on November 16th, what followed immediately after (once the boos subsided) was a seriously confused GSP. His brain had been rattled during the bout, he couldn’t remember certain rounds. But fight fans are used to that. What stood out was his hint to and stumble towards retirement during the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. You can see it here.
And shortly after this interview, us long-time fight fans got to watch UFC prez Dana White take on the stereotypical role of greedy promoter. Watch it here.
Don’t let the first two minutes of good points fool you. Yes, MMA judges need serious work. The sport needs serious work in terms of how it scores fights. Nevada has mad issues. But GSP owes the fans? He owes the company? Hell no. That’s where Dana becomes a monster. Where he bleeds into the caricature of Don King or of the CEO who sits back in one of his three mansions and smokes $1,000 cigars while his workers scrape by with minimum wage and no pensions. GSP has helped carry the sport in a variety of ways for years. And for goodness sake, his reason for stepping away and vacating the belt is “mental stability.” Watch him here.
We congratulate fighters after their victories, and I feel like GSP’s latest decision should be met with the same congratulations. For a 32-year-old fighter who has maintained supremacy for this many years is amazing. And it’s equally or even more amazing to get out of the fight game while on top, to think about the future of your life, and your mental stability. How many fighters have done that? Not many.
Congratulations to Georges St-Pierre. May many other fighters follow in these footsteps.
A version of this post originally appeared at CameronConaway.com.