Georges St-Pierre is no longer a UFC champion.
The resounding impact of those words has yet to truly sink in. St-Pierre, who is arguably the greatest fighter of all time, has decided to vacate the UFC welterweight title and take an indefinite leave from MMA at age 32.
During a media call on Friday, he officially announced his decision to walk away from the sport and attempt to live a “normal life.”
The media call can be heard in its entirety at MMAFighting.com:
I’m 100 percent, I’ve never felt so good physically, said St-Pierre. It’s more emotionally, I need this. I need to have a normal life for a bit, that’s it. I’ll feel better and come back stronger.
Immediately after the announcement, a plethora of MMA stars hopped on Twitter and gave their initial reactions to St-Pierre’s shocking decision.
@GeorgesStPierre I admire you posture. You are a true champion I will miss your fights . go enjoy life u deserve champ— Vitor Belfort (@vitorbelfort) December 13, 2013
Few know what it's like to prep your mind & body for combat like #GSP has. Even fewer know what it's like to do it for as long as he did.— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) December 13, 2013
GSP is a great success story, great career and all class, happy for him. Exit on his terms. Hendricks vs Lawler is going to be insane!!— Brian Stann (@BrianStann) December 13, 2013
Was a honor to watch GSP all these yrs. You made a huge impact on the Sport. No matter what Anybody had/has to say you were a True Champion— Anthony Johnson (@Anthony_Rumble) December 13, 2013
Thank you @GeorgesStPierre for being an amazing competitor and champion. Much respect and love. Good luck to you in our future endeavors!— Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) December 13, 2013
GSP achieved not just championship level performances, but he set the benchmark for future UFC athletes to attempt to surpass.— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) December 13, 2013
If this is the last we see of @GeorgesStPierre for me it was a honor to corner against a great Martial Artist!! & Fighter!!!— javier mendez (@akajav) December 13, 2013
People need to lay off of GSP. He's been a great champion but he's also human. If he needs time away that's his right. I hope he finds peace— Felice Herrig (@feliceherrig) December 13, 2013
@GeorgesStPierre won more fights than anyone in UFC History...he epitomizes champion...thank you for the honor of calling your fights!— Mike Goldberg (@MFG16) December 13, 2013
This was without a doubt the best decision St-Pierre could have made.
Coming off a controversial split decision victory over Johny Hendricks, many in the MMA community, including UFC President Dana White, hoped St-Pierre would stick around for at least an immediate rematch.
But during the media call, even White admitted St-Pierre made the right decision if he wasn’t 100 percent mentally focused:
This isn’t baseball or some sport where you go out—this is fighting man. You have to be 100 percent mental, physical and emotional. If you’re not, you should sit out on the sidelines and wait until you get your stuff cleared up. I think it’s the right move.
There is a lot of pressure that comes with being a world champion, and St-Pierre has carried that burden for over five years. He has accomplished everything he could possibly accomplish and shattered records at every turn.
There is nothing left for him to prove in MMA.
As for the UFC, the gaping hole St-Pierre leaves in pay-per-view buys will be tough to fill. He has been the biggest monetary draw for the company for several years, and his absence will certainly be felt. Luckily, the UFC boasts plenty of potential superstars primed for the spotlight treatment in St-Pierre’s abandoned throne.
It wasn’t all bad news on Friday. St-Pierre did leave the door open for a possible return in the future. He seemed confident that an indefinite hiatus will only benefit him in the long run and help him improve as a fighter.
Have we seen the last of St-Pierre? If not, will he be able to climb the Everest and reclaim the UFC title?