One of the best mixed martial artists in the history of the sport has officially hung up the gloves.
Former UFC Welterweight and Middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre formally announced his retirement Thursday at a press conference in Montreal, Canada.
“It takes a lot of discipline to become and stay champion. It also takes a lot of discipline to stop while still feeling that you’re in the best physical and mental shape of your life but I’ve always planned to leave the sport when I’m at the top and in good health,” St-Pierre said in a statement. “I want to thank my family, my fans, my coaches, trainers and training partners, my sponsors and my agents for their indefectible support during all these years.”
“I will forever be grateful for the work of Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, as well as Dana White and all UFC employees for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills before the world, from UFC 46 to UFC 217. I also want to thank each of my opponents. All of them are incredible athletes who brought out the best in me. I retire from competition with great pride at having had a positive impact on my sport. I intend to keep training and practicing martial arts for as long as I live and I look forward to watching the new generation of champions carry our sport into the future.”
The announcement comes 15 months after St-Pierre’s last bout. GSP competed in the main event of UFC 217, where he returned from a four-year hiatus to defeat Michael Bisping and capture a 185-pound title. Shortly after, St-Pierre would vacate that belt citing a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis that was related to his bulking up to compete at Middleweight.
At Thursday’s press conference, St-Pierre insinuated that this was in fact the end of his fighting career.
“When I was young, the reason why I started doing mixed martial arts is because I watched Royce Gracie growing up when he won the first UFC,” St-Pierre said. “At that particular moment, I knew exactly that’s what I wanted to do. It’s weird, it’s like I had a vision. So I want to say thank you to Royce Gracie for inspiring me. Also thank you to (kickboxer) Jean-Yves Theriault for inspiring me, not only as an athlete, as a good role model.”
“And thank you to Wayne Gretzky. He’s probably the best athlete all sports combined, his records will probably never be broken. Not only is he an incredible athlete, for me he’s an incredible role model and through my career I always tried to mold myself like Wayne Gretzky.”
St-Pierre retires with a 26-2 record and a 21-2 record inside the Octagon. The Canadian star made his pro debut on Jan. 25, 2002, defeating Ivan Menjivar by first-round TKO at a local show in Montreal. He would go on to win his first seven bouts to earn the right to challenge Matt Hughes for the UFC Welterweight championship at UFC 50, but lose by first-round submission. The two would rematch at UFC 65 and St-Pierre would pick up a second-round TKO victory to capture his first UFC championship.
Other victories include top names like B.J. Penn (twice), Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck (twice), Jon Fitch, and Sean Sherk.
“There’s no tears,” St-Pierre said. “I’m very happy to do it. 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 and I always said that I want to retire on my own and not be told to retire. So it takes discipline in combat sport and full contact sports, that’s how you should retire. You should retire on top.”