Georges St-Pierre is 35 years old, turns 36 in May, and hasn’t stepped a competitive foot inside the Octagon since 2013. But that’s not going to stop him from making a return to the UFC, and it’s not going to stop him from making a very avoidable mistake.
Following GSP’s controversial split decision victory over Johny Hendricks two-plus years ago back in November 2013, UFC president Dana White was furious (when isn’t he?), fans weren’t thrilled (are they ever?), and GSP was walking away. Maybe for good, maybe not. Rumors ran hot and cold, but they were never too far away.
Of course, we all know better by now. Perhaps even White, who was so adamant that St-Pierre was done following his “departure” after UFC 167, finally knows better by now, too. Hell, he should know better than anyone. After all, fighters rarely stay away for some reason or another. They simply cannot help it. But Georges St-Pierre? He’s better than this. Or maybe he should be. Setting aside his age, I pose one simple question: what does St-Pierre have left to prove?
The answer: a resounding nothing.
GSP’s UFC career line reads as follows: 25 wins—eight by (T)KO, five by submission—and two defeats…not to mention 10 consecutive successful title defenses. Sure, as his career moved further down the road, those finishes turned to decisions, but of the seven in a row before his hiatus, six were still unanimous. One could feasibly make the case that GSP was the best pound for pound fighter in his prime (though, Anderson Silva may have something to say about that). And while he wasn’t at his peak upon departing, he was as close as any fighter could hope to be.
That’s just it, isn’t it? An athlete’s legacy hardly ever goes untarnished. But whatever the chances are of an athlete outside the fighting world seeing their legacy crack, those odds might as well quadruple for persons within it. That’s simply the reality.
Take the aforementioned Silva, for instance. He’s 41 years old now and still fighting. Despite picking up a victory just over one week ago at UFC 208, he had lost his five previous bouts. Despite winning 17 consecutive fights from 2006 through 2012—all but one taking place in the UFC—folks are now starting to discuss whether he ever was all that great. Yes, people are really starting to discuss the legitimacy of his legacy.
Which brings us back to Georges St-Pierre, the man who has nothing to prove, the man who has absolutely nothing to gain and a relatively unblemished legacy to lose.
Who knows what will happen? Maybe the pressure will be off; maybe he’ll have fun again. Time will tell, but Father Time waits for nobody. And as we continue to learn, Father Time is undefeated.
Perhaps you wanted more flash or entertainment out of GSP during his repeated title defenses years ago, but fans can’t deny that he was always in peak physical condition. Fans can’t deny that technically, he was always one step ahead.
But now Georges St-Pierre, arguably the greatest welterweight of all time, could very well throw that all away. The question remains: what for?