Hey, you. Yeah, you. The one with your Beats by Dre headphones on, not paying attention to the world around you. Let me bring you up to speed. One of the most revered, likable, talented and skilled UFC fighters in the history of MMA has decided to walk away. No, not retire. He did not utter those words, neither will I. He did say he was taking an extended of leave of absence away from the Octagon. And before you ask if he is taking his toys or in this case the belt with him, let me assure you as they say in France, au contraire mon frère. Instead, he is doing this in the most classy way possible. The only way Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, the former UFC Welterweight champion of the world, would.
Rewind this tape. On November 16th, Georges St. Pierre and Johnny Hendricks headlined UFC 167. This fight was one of the most watched fights in Pay Per View history. Georges announced he was clocking out for the night and a few nights to follow. Let’s look at some others that have done the same. Many have left their respective sport too early in their career. Except one small difference. How many of them were the best of the best when they left? Let’s talk about that. Now you might say some of these don’t apply because they are a team sport. However, for the sake of argument, I will bring up a couple. Barry Sanders. Yes he retired way to early. Yes he was the numero uno running back in the peoples’ minds, and damn near it in the stat books. Some might argue he still is the best of the best. The main difference with Barry is that he couldn’t get to the pinnacle of his sport. To borrow a line from Beyonce, if the Lions wanted him to stay, they should have put a ring on it. You could say Sandy Koufax. He played 11 years and walked after developing Arthritis. Other than an ACL tear, I believe, GSP has been relatively injury free. Another interesting comparison for a few reasons is Rush’s countryman, Ken Dryden. From 1970-1979, Dryden was goalie for the Montreal Canadiens. Not just any goalie, mind you, but one of the premier goalies of his time. While hockey is a team sport, Dryden played in a very brutal time period and at a solo position. Not in a cage but in a net with three big, angry dudes shooting a very cold piece of rubber at him, almost like heavy hands gunning for his face. He had won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens six times. He won the Conn Smythe trophy for MVP of the playoffs once. He won the Vezina trophy five times for being the best at his position. Point is, he won. A lot. However, still a team.
Now before I give you one more interesting name, let’s talk about Georges for a minute. He has been in the UFC since 2004. His record overall is 25-2. He has defended his belt 9 times. He has had the Welterweight division belt in an arm bar for quite some time now. Here we are October 2013. The guy just fought the fight of his life. A fight in which many including UFC President and mouthpiece Dana White were left wondering what fight the judges were watching after the decision to St. Pierre. Dana blasted the Nevada Athletic Commission and later changed his tune regarding the scorecard after five rounds. If you were one of the lucky millions that watched it, you saw a fight in which Johnny Hendricks threw everything except his Chevy Pickup at GSP. He took possibly the most damage of his UFC career. The dude never looked more beat up then after south paw Johnny Hendricks got hold of him. These dudes battled for five rounds and Johnny Hendricks walked out virtually unscathed. After the fight in the ring, and after getting bombs thrown and landed in his face, Georges decided in a very awkward moment to drop his own bomb. He stated he wanted to walk away for a bit. The very entertaining and direct Joe Rogan asked him if he was using the R word to which Georges reiterated again he was walking away. He said he needed to take some time off away from the cage.
Now what are the possible reasons for this abrupt departure? Well, that depends on if you watch the reputable TMZ or not. Apparently according to Harvey Levin and crew, GSP had an ailing father, a child out of wedlock and a financial dispute with a former agent. GSP has dispelled all of those along with his family. Go follow Kanye, Harvey. That will be more believable. GSP is almost the Opie of the UFC. He is known to have a squeaky clean image. He is tremendous with the press. He knows what to say and when to say it, until this fight, that is.
What are the underlying possibilities? Well, we discussed what has been disproved. Let’s talk about what has not. There’s an old cliche that some say is apt to unravel most mysteries. “ Follow the money trail.” Could this be a ploy for cash from GSP? Not likely. The dude has enough Euro and coin to walk away and pay for medical bills for millions of Canadians himself. Luckily, Canada does that already. In addition, he has a contract that Dana has stated will be “frozen” until GSP decides to return. That’s nice of Dana, for his unabashed star of his organization. Or meal ticket, whichever you prefer.
Going back to July, you may remember the other one third of the UFC triumvirate, or cash cow, known as Anderson Silva had a fight with Chris Weidman. He, as Chris Tucker would say, got “ktfo.” He also stated afterward that he was not going to fight for the title anymore. Dana changed his mind for him after a brief closed door meeting and lo and behold, I give you UFC 168 coming up a week from now. Rematch. Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman. This time it’s personal. Or not, depending on whose bank account you’re looking at. My point here is that it Anderson Silva, who is known as one of the best ever, also wanted a break, and within six months time, he is fighting again.
Could this happen with St. Pierre? Very possible. There are matches and fights to be made. For whatever reason, Georges wants a breath of oxygen. He stated he wants to live his life normally for awhile. Maybe it’s like Jack Nicholson said in the Departed – “ Heavy is the crown.” Georges has met that goal 9 times. That shows he has lived up to his part of holding a title and deserves a breather.
How will this play out? Not that betting is my strong suit, but I suggest you get on a plane, go to Las Vegas, and plop down your holiday cash on GSP stepping back in that Octagon sometime in the next year or two, give or take.
Oh yeah, one other athlete that walked away from his profession at an early age? Rocky Marciano, 49-0. That Rocky, That’s pretty good company for Mr. St. Pierre, if you ask me.
Brian X is a sports junkie. Watching that is. He has too much extra baggage to even play in a church league. Not that he would want to but that’s a story for another day. He actively supports and follows The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Tampa Bay Lightning. He has become rabid beer drinking Mixed Martial Arts fan as well. He is working on his fighting skills in an octagon in Tai Land to destroy the young bucks that even think about glancing in his 18 year old daughter’s direction. Also he will put you in a standing guillotine choke if you laugh at the fact that he likes Tennis as well. Born and raised in Tampa, FL (not Tampa Bay Florida- to you national syndicated sports show hosts on certain nights of the week), enjoys music his metal as much as his sports when not arguing with his daughter or dog Hugo.
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