UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced on Friday that he would be stepping away and taking a break from fighting. GSP will be relinquishing his belt after defending it for the ninth time last month, during a controversial fight against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been fighting a very long time at a high level, and it’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, and I decided that I need to take time off,” said GSP. “I know the UFC’s a business, and it can’t wait on me. They have to keep things rolling, so I’ve vacated my title for the respect of the other competitors, and one day, when I feel like it, I may come back. But right now, I need a break.”
GSP says that he is physically one hundred percent, but that he can't, mentally and emotionally, handle another training camp right now. “What people don’t understand is that in the situation that I am at, it’s a lot of pressure,” GSP continued.
“Every fight I’m carrying weight on my shoulders, and every fight it’s like you add weight. At one point it becomes so heavy that I have a hard time carrying it myself. Physically, I’m a hundred percent and I’m still young and on top of the world, but mentally, I cannot go through another training camp right now and I don’t know when I will be able to. One day, when I feel I’m ready, I’m gonna come back, and instead of having a red sticker on my glove, I’m gonna have a blue sticker and I’ll be the challenger. I’ve climbed Everest three times before, when I lost to Hughes, to Serra, and then after my (knee) injury, and if I have to do it a fourth time, believe me, I feel like I’m gonna do it.”
Thanks to all of you for everything - Merci beaucoup!
— Georges St-Pierre (@GeorgesStPierre) December 14, 2013
Although he has not said when exactly he will return, if ever, UFC president Dana White says that he is confident that GSP will eventually return to the octogon. “He didn’t walk away. He’s going to come back. He has some things he has to handle. He did the classy thing and vacated the title. He did the right thing,” said White. “He’s going to be gone a while. Somebody will win that belt and then he’ll be back."
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) December 13, 2013
“I agree with Georges a hundred percent," said White. "He talked to us and said ‘I’ve got a lot of personal issues I’m dealing with right now, and I can’t even imagine going into another training camp. It will drive me crazy.’ This isn’t baseball or some other sport. This is fighting. You have to be a hundred percent mentally, physically, emotionally. If you’re not, you should sit on the sidelines and wait until you get your stuff cleared up, and I think it’s the right move.”
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
Now that GSP has vacated his title, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will fight for the vacant title at UFC 171 on March 15, 2014, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
[Image via Twitter]
@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