What is the exact meaning of a historic icon? A legend who will never be forgotten? A man amongst men? There’s a French-Canadian out there in Montreal who satisfies all these characteristics and then some. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, the most accomplished fighter, of all time is officially retiring from MMA. I hate to be melodramatic but when it comes to Georges… I love being melodramatic.
Reports say that the greatest welterweight of all time retired due to him not being able to land the Khabib Nurmagomedov fight. Apparently, GSP was seriously pushing for that fight, but the UFC had other plans in mind. I completely understand the UFC’s stance on this. There is no doubt that this fight would have been a historic fight (I do think GSP would have won). However, the UFC just simply cannot put the lightweight division on pause to tend to St. Pierre’s needs.
Both fighters were seriously pushing for this fight is the sad part. There was no disagreement on either side. Both fighters had a mutual respect for one another. Khabib called St. Pierre one of the greatest fighters to ever live and said it would be an honor to share the cage with him. St. Pierre even said Khabib is the guy to beat right now. The UFC just would not give in and make this fight, which is what led us here.
This game is a harsh game. For a guy to retire on his terms, on top of the game, is unheard of. Usually fighters stay in this game one too many fights, until they are decrepit and washed up (Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, etc.). St. Pierre, however, did not adhere to the conventional norm when it came to his career. He retired a two-division champion, holding the record for most title fights in UFC history at 14, and the most dominant welterweight to ever live.
GSP carried himself like no other champion did. He represented the true embodiment of what it means to be a martial artist. There is no asterisk concerning PED’s that is hanging over his head. He never once stepped out of line. He always acted with the utmost professionalism and respected each and every one of his opponents as a true martial artist should… until he dominated and neutralized their game of course. He respected the media as well, always promoting his fights to the best of his ability and working passionately with journalists across the world.
A True Champion
It’s very rare for an athlete of this caliber to come across any sport, let alone the youngest sport in the world. GSP is the reason I fell in love with this sport. I’ll never forget the night of UFC 154, back in 2012, when I first witnessed this man’s greatness. I was with a high school friend of mine playing football out in the street. This kid abruptly stops playing and scream, “Holy Shit! The Georges St. Pierre fight is on!”. I didn’t know what the fuss was about or why this dude got so riled up all of a sudden.
Next thing I know, we’re watching the comeback fight of the best fighter in the world. And when I say comeback fight, I literally mean comeback fight. St. Pierre had torn his ACL back in 2011, which had caused him to miss nearly 18 months of action. He was on top of his game when he tore his ACL the first time, dominating every fighter the UFC put in front of him. However, 18 months is a lot of time in MMA. The landscape of the UFC went through a catastrophic change while he was recovering from his injury.
Carlos Condit beat Nick Diaz to win the interim UFC welterweight championship. That means Condit vs. St. Pierre was the fight to make to unify the belts. Here I was, back in 2012, a young kid in high school watching a new type of sport that captivated me like nothing I’ve ever seen. GSP was dominating Condit across the board. He controlled the center of the octagon and took him down every round. Condit had no answer for the champion. St. Pierre was too big and too strong for him. Condit was throwing out every submission he could from his back, but nothing seemed to get through St. Pierre’s black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu prowess.
The third round was a different story. The third round is where I grew to love this man. Condit landed a beautiful head kick to the temple of St. Pierre that knocked him to the ground. Condit smelled blood and pounced on him. St. Pierre withstood a barrage of punches and grabbed Condit’s body to stay in the fight. At this very moment is where St. Pierre showed the world what it means to be a true champion. He instantly got back up and put Condit on his back with a beautiful level change. The rest was all she wrote.
There are very few people I look up to in this world, Georges St. Pierre is one of them. His undeterred ambition and willingness to overcome any obstacle thrown his way helped set an example for young MMA fans, like myself at the time, across the globe. His consistency in and out of the octagon lead to him taking out three generations of welterweights and embedding his name in history. There isn’t any fighter that carried themselves the way Georges St. Pierre did. There is no other Georges St. Pierre right now and there will never be another Georges St. Pierre in the future.
Thank you GSP.