For nearly a decade, Georges St-Pierre competed under the UFC banner. Over that stretch, "GSP" became the most dominant fighter in the history of the welterweight division. He found victory in 20 of his 22 fights, including a record-breaking run in which he notched 12 consecutive victories, and defended the welterweight title successfully on nine occasions.
In the leadup to his most recent bout, against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, talk of retirement for the pound-for-pound great began to swirl. That notion came to fruition in the days following his controversial split-decision victory over "Bigg Rigg" as the Tri-Star fighter vacated the title and walked away from mixed martial arts entirely.
News of St-Pierre's exit from the sport dominated the headlines across MMA media, as the former long-reigning champion cited his need to get some normalcy back in his life as the main motivator. In the weeks that followed, tension arose between the French Canadian superstar and the promotion he championed, as St-Pierre went public with his feelings toward the UFC's refusal to back him on his push for stronger drug-testing methods.
Prior to the bout with Hendricks, he suggested both fighters undergo VADA testing, but nothing came to fruition, as neither camp could agree on which organization to use. St-Pierre's statements in regard to the UFC not taking a more firm stance on the subject of PED's drew the ire of Dana White, as the UFC President called St-Pierre's comments "kooky."
White also commented on St-Pierre's request to take personal time out of the spotlight but apparent eagerness to hit the interview circuit. This created a situation where the two parties were seemingly at odds, but St-Pierre clarified that that wasn't his intention when speaking with MMA Junkie earlier this week in Brazil.
“I’m a public person, and things I say come out like a bomb. The last thing I want to do is hurt the UFC or hurt the sport. I’ve been fighting for the sport since the beginning of my career. (The UFC) made my career and made me who I am. My sport, my wealth, everything I have is because of that. The last thing I want to do is do something bad for them.
“I just want some stuff to change. I had a lot of (private) messages from people, and reporters, saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing. Keep going. We’re behind you.’ That’s what’s happening. We’ll see how things go. I know (change is) going to happen sooner or later.”
Will Georges St-Pierre return to the UFC?
While the former welterweight king has stepped down from his championship throne and out of active competition, that hasn't kept him from training. St-Pierre has remained active, as he's helped his training partners at Tri-Star prepare for their upcoming bouts. The 32-year-old hasn't ruled out a potential return to the UFC, but he told the news outlet he's enjoying his life without the constant pressure of being a UFC champion.
“I don’t know the time; I’m waiting a little bit. But it’s very therapeutic for me, taking a break. A lot of stuff happened in my life, and I’ve seen some crazy things happening. Some reporter came up to me and was like, ‘I read something that you were in detox for drugs.’ I was like, ‘Hell no.’ It made me laugh. The reason I took a break is to keep my mental health. Only a few people understand how hard it is to stay on top for a long time when you have so much pressure. It’s not like a regular fight. It’s a championship fight every time that takes a lot of promotion.”
“I’m training for fun – I’m not training for competition. I’ve gained probably five pounds of natural muscle since I stopped. I sleep better, and I’m more happy. When you’re happy in life, you’re doing well.”
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.