Georges St-Pierre, a two-division UFC champion who put mixed martial arts on the map in Canada, has announced his retirement from the sport.
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“There are no tears,” he insisted.
“It takes a lot of discipline to retire on top. It was a long process in my mind, but it’s time to do it. Only a few people have done it.”
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Walking into the press conference, held by the UFC Thursday at Montreal’s Bell Centre, St-Pierre said he made a point not to bring any written notes.
“I want to do this with my heart,” he said.
“I’m here to announce my retirement. It’s hard to retire when you’re in a combat sport. I always said it’s better to do it yourself than be told to do it. You should retire on top.”
Closing his eyes, St-Pierre thanked all his coaches and those who helped him throughout his career.
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“All the people that I mentioned had a huge influence on my career,” he said.
“If it was not for them, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am.”
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The 37-year-old from Saint-Isidore, Que., last fought in November 2017 when he dethroned middleweight champion Michael (The Count) Bisping.
He gave up the 185-pound crown a month later, citing health issues — ulcerative colitis.
“I don’t have the same hunger anymore. Even though physically I feel on top of my game, I don’t feel the same hunger anymore,” he explained.
“I could do this one fight at a time, but this business is about what’s next, not about what was.”
The Bisping fight was St-Pierre’s first time entering the octagon since stepping away from the sport four years earlier after a memorable run as welterweight champion.
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“I don’t like fighting. The day of the fight was always the worst for me. I hated it,” he said, adding that he didn’t like hurting others or being hurt.
“It’s hard to explain and not a lot of people can understand it. I liked the competition, but I don’t like to fight.”
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St-Pierre said he’s not sad to retire from the sport, noting it was just a small part of his life — plus, his father had been asking him to retire for years.
The fighter also took a moment to address the bullying in his childhood, saying he has chosen not to view his younger self as a “victim.”
“I changed myself from the inside out and that’s how I overcame bullying,” he stated.
“I don’t see it as, ‘Oh, it’s way too hard.’ I see it as a challenge and it gets me excited. Martial arts taught me confidence. It saved my life. I would not have been able to channel all that negativity when I was younger without it.”
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His proudest career moment? “When I got dropped by a head kick and I survived it,” he said.
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St-Pierre, who leaves with a 26-2 record, defended his 170-pound title nine times — though he’s not ruling out a return to the sport if ever an “exciting opportunity” arises.
His parting words? “Some athletes when they retire, they get fat and out of shape. It’s not going to happen to me.”
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— with files from The Canadian Press