Georges St. Pierre is leaving us, maybe forever or maybe not, but either way, homeboy is outta here. Yes, that’s some huge, paradigm shift-type stuff – especially since GSP has been fighting in the Octagon since 2004, and fans who’ve come aboard the MMA train since the inception of TUF don’t know a UFC universe without the Canadian atop (or near the top of) the welterweight division. And yes, the dude has grown into both a symbol of what the elite in the sport can be and a tried-and-true pay-per-view bonanza for the UFC . But guess what? He’s gone now, and everything is going to be just fine.
As someone who generally sees everything as “glass half-full” instead of “glass half-empty and the water contained therein is poisonous”, I’ve compiled a list of things that are the upside of GSP retiring. Agree with me if you want to be cool; disagree if you want to be reviled.
- St. Pierre leaving opens the welterweight division to a wealth of champ-and-challenger permutations that are mouthwatering. No matter who wins when Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler vie for the belt in March, you know who’s going to be facing the winner soon after? My money is on Carlos Condit. And then it could be Matt Brown. And after that, Rory MacDonald could get a chance, or Tyron Woodley, or even Nick Diaz. The number of awesome match-ups we could be treated to just increased exponentially with GSP vacating the belt.
- A hiatus from the sport means that St. Pierre can rest and recharge. Will he come back once he’s gotten his much-needed vacation from the spotlight? Who knows. But rest is good, especially for someone who’s been forced to remain honed to a keen edge for number of years GSP has been champ. And at the end of the day, his well-being is far more important than our desire as fans to see him kill himself in the cage and Zuffa’s desire to keep their gravy train running.
- By leaving in this manner – i.e., off of a win and at the top – St. Pierre has guaranteed that his return to combat, if it ever comes, will be huge business. HUGE. Bigger, probably, than if he had stayed and eventually lost his belt in the Octagon.
- GSP leaving like this is good because it’s one of the few times we get to see someone retire on their own terms. Chris Lytle made his exit off a win, but he wasn’t at the top. St. Pierre is a different story, and a story that, if it’s over, has pretty much the most “fairytale” of endings a fighter can have.
- Finally, GSP leaving means we don’t have to see another exhausted fighter “half-ass” it while he declines very visibly in front of us. He just went five rounds against a a top challenger, took a beating but emerged the victor, and now St. Pierre has dropped the microphone and walked off stage. That’s way, way better than seeing him carried out on a stretcher, or with his head hung low because someone forcibly took the belt from him.
Yup, GSP is gone. But life without him won’t suck.