GSP Clears Way for a New Welterweight Champion
Written by Carlin Bardsley
UFC welterweight champion and future Hall of Famer Georges St Pierre has made the decision to vacate the title he has help since 2008. GSP announced the decision on a conference call with the media on Friday afternoon.
St. Pierre made the decision to step away from the sport due to what he described as a lot of pressure and a lot of “criticism” in his professional life and unspecified issues in his personal life that require his attention.
“It’s like every fight I’m carrying weight on my shoulders. With every fight you add weight and add weight and add weight, eventually it gets too heavy.” the French-Canadian superstar told reporters.
St. Pierre carefully avoided the word retirement, instead preferring to keep the talk about an extended break. But he felt that he needed to vacate his title “for the respect of the other competitors” and added “I can not put myself through a training camp right now and I don’t want anyone to wait”.
Professional pressures aside, it was also evident that concerns in his personal life played at least an equal part in his decision. St. Pierre described his personal life as a “freaking zoo” and stated that it was time to start living “a normal life”. He refused to elaborate on his personal issues, saying “I keep my personal life personal”.
St. Pierre sounded relieved and at peace with his decision, his voice almost jovial. He had the demeanour of a man who had been set free from a situation that had become untenable in his mind. GSP added “I love my sport and I’ve never been a victim of anything. I chose this life… Now, I choose to not do it.”
Somewhat surprisingly, UFC President Dana White sounded relaxed on the call and was nothing but complimentary towards GSP, a far cry from his outburst towards towards St. Pierre in the UFC 167 post-fight press conference. White retreated from the stance he took that night, saying there was more to it than just GSP’s post-fight comments and referenced problems with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
On GSP’s decision, White said he agreed with him “100%” and states that if anyone wasn’t fully mentally committed to fighting, walking away is the best option. He then lauded both St. Pierre’s athletic acomplishments and professionalism, saying he was “the best guy to work with” and if he had 475 guys like GSP on the roster his “life would be much easier”.
St. Pierre becomes the first UFC champion to vacate his title since Frank Shamrock left the company in 1999. He enters his hiatus with the most wins in UFC history, most successful and consecutive title defenses in the welterweight division and the most time spent in the octagon in UFC history. He also walks away as the UFC’s top pay-per-view draw. He also sets the table for one more giant PPV number against whoever is welterweight champion should he decide to return.