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.
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?