One of the greatest mixed martial artists in history is expected to announce his retirement as Georges St-Pierre is set to announce the news Thursday in Montreal.
Benoit Beaudoin of RDS reported that the former welterweight and middleweight champion will be announcing his retirement at a press conference scheduled for 10:30 am at the Bell Centre. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani has confirmed the news of St-Pierre’s retirement.
St-Pierre, a native of Saint-Isidore, Quebec, began his pro career in January 2002 with the UCC organization in Quebec, which became TKO and run by promoter Stephane Patry.
He was signed by the UFC and debuted at age 22 with a 5-0 record. He submitted Karo Parisyan at UFC 46 in January 2004, on the same night two future rivals, Matt Hughes and BJ Penn fought with Penn becoming the welterweight champion.
St-Pierre was fast-tracked to a title fight in October 2004 and was infamously submitted by Matt Hughes with one-second remaining in the first round at UFC 50. St-Pierre’s path back to a championship fight would last two years, including his first fight with BJ Penn in March 2006 at UFC 58 where St-Pierre won by split decision.
He received a rematch with Hughes at UFC 65 in November 2006, stopping the champion in the second round and ending Hughes’ reign as the dominant welterweight of the era. However, St-Pierre dropped the title in his next fight with a first-round stoppage at the hands of heavy underdog Matt Serra. St-Pierre acknowledged in later years that he didn’t take the fight seriously and prepare as he should have. It is still considered one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
The loss turned into a blessing as St-Pierre made wholesale changes to the team that surrounded him. He turned his preparation for fights into an obsession that eventually led to burnout and a hiatus from the sport.
St-Pierre never lost another fight in his career after the loss to Serra. He regained the title from Serra at UFC 83 at the Bell Centre for the UFC’s first card in Montreal. St-Pierre had broken through as one of the biggest stars in the sport and an enormous box office star for the UFC.
He reached another level for his super fight with lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 94 in January 2009. The rematch featured the first UFC “Prime Time” series, done in the style of HBO’s 24/7 with separate production crews following each fighter’s training camp.
St-Pierre served as the co-feature at UFC 100, which was the company’s all-time pay-per-view record at that time, headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir. He headlined the UFC’s first event in the province of Ontario in April 2011 against Jake Shields. The UFC 129 pay-per-view at the Rogers Centre drew over 55,000 people with an instant sellout when tickets were put out.
In November 2012, St-Pierre returned from a torn ACL injury and pushed himself to his limit taking two fights within four months. He defeated interim champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154 and returned in March 2013 to earn a clear decision over Nick Diaz. In November 2013, he defeated Johny Hendricks and was the closest St-Pierre came to a defeat in this era with many believing Hendricks won the fight.
Following UFC 167 and the win over Hendricks, St-Pierre vacated the title and announced a sabbatical from the sport, holding back on announcing his retirement. It would be four years before he returned at UFC 217 in November 2017 where he moved up in weight to defeat middleweight champion Michael Bisping to become a champion in a second weight class.
The decision to move up in weight proved harmful for St-Pierre as he suffered from the effects of colitis and vacated the middleweight title to allow the division to move on.
When discussing the greatest fighters ever, St-Pierre is absolutely among those in the conversation and a strong case can be made for St-Pierre being atop the list.
He was named the Rogers Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year three times from 2008-2010.