GSP Was Not the UFC’s Hero, He’s Their Silent Guardian

I’ll be upfront about this; I’m not a fan of Georges St-Pierre. I never have been and probably never will be. His fighting style and personality simply don’t click for me and yeah, throughout his UFC Welterweight Championship bout with Johny Hendricks tonight I found myself shouting at every punch that Hendricks was able to connect on GSP. It was easily the most compelling Georges St-Pierre UFC Welterweight Championship bout since his first fight with Matt Serra, which is saying a lot.

Georges St-Pierre’s odd post-fight speech and all of the talk leading into UFC 167 point at Georges St-Pierre as a man who has been worn down by the responsibilities of being a dominant UFC Champion, echoing the sentiments of Anderson Silva leading into his fight with Chris Weidman. In a way, both dominant Champions saw their UFC Championship runs end with a whimper and not a bang, as Anderson Silva was caught while goofing off against Chris Weidman and Georges St-Pierre won a decision that clearly wasn’t his to win against Johny Hendricks before announcing that he needed time away from the UFC.

The talk that we are hearing from Georges St-Pierre post fight is distressing, to say the least, with him showing clear signs of burnout. GSP post-fight discussed how he feels like he’s losing his mind and is having trouble sleeping at night, as well as talking about how when he gets punched his vision gets blurry and doesn’t correct itself for long periods. The internet was quick to assume that GSP had cancer or some other serious medical condition which would tear him away from the ring, but the reality seems to be that he’s simply done all that he can and has found himself used up, soulless and empty.

Georges St-Pierre stepping away from the UFC right now will make him a villain by most standards. He’s had an auspicious Championship run, sure, but accented by either an inability or unwillingness to stop his opponents which has led to widespread criticism of the Champion. The truth about GSP is that in a post-Anderson Silva world he was the lone drawing card that the UFC had left and the talk about him leaving the ring has Dana White seeing red, cursing him out in the post-fight press conference.

Dana White tries to clarify that no, he isn’t upset that GSP wants to retire, but he’s furious that he won’t give Johny Hendricks a rematch and that he won’t give a clear answer on if he’s retiring or not. You see, it is Georges St-Pierre’s responsibility as Champion to live up to carrying the company on his back. While I’ve never found myself fond of Georges St-Pierre, I’m imagining a UFC without Georges St-Pierre, with him departing the UFC on these terms, as a villain who stole Johny Hendricks’ Championship win and then decided to maybe walk away without wanting to immediately relinquish his title, and it is a stark scene.

Maybe we, the MMA fans and world as a whole, have been too hard on Georges St-Pierre for not being able to knock out or submit every top level competitor that he’s stepped into the ring with, for not being reckless for the sake of entertainment at the cost of his health. Maybe we’ve collectively ignored all of the good that he’s done for an organization that can’t see how hurting he is right now and that he is a man on the verge of a mental breakdown trying to hold it together, being noncommittal as he sees the position he’s leaving the organization in. Does GSP need to end up like Chuck Liddell, walking away when it’s too late, leaving him punchdrunk without any discernible life skills or career after sacrificing for the good of an organization that doesn’t treat him like a king?

In some weird, twisted way, Georges St-Pierre is Batman to the UFC’s Gotham City and if he is indeed leaving, like it seems that he will be, I can only imagine the strange, dark days that are ahead for the UFC without their main drawing card and company man there to pop PPV buys and make the girls squeal. We’ve all seen or heard about the curse of the UFC poster, with Georges St-Pierre as the last one left, but he still has his Championship on a technicality, only did he lose a lot more than a hunk of leather and gold tonight? We are left now with unproven Champions like Chris Weidman, impersonal husks like Cain Velasquez, prima donnas like Jon Jones and paper champions like Dominick Cruz.

These truly are dark times that we live in.

Georges didn’t do anything wrong.

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