End of an era.
French-Canadian fighter Georges St-Pierre, who is considered by many as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, has decided to hang up his four-ounce gloves for good, announcing his official retirement at a press conference at Bell Centre in Montreal on Thursday.
A former welterweight and middleweight titlist, St-Pierre last saw actions at UFC 217, defeating Michael Bisping for the 185-pound championship in his much-awaited return from a four-year hiatus. “Rush” then vacated the middleweight throne after being diagnosed with an inflammatory disease affecting the large bowel called ulcerative colitis.
The 37-year old legend collected 26 wins and two losses in his 15-year MMA career while holding the best record in UFC history for most wins in title bouts and the second longest combined title streak.
He also holds notable victories against Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Dan Hardy, and many others.
“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.”
“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,” he stated.
Messages of support and gratitude for the former two-division champion flooded the social media following the news, with fans and pros alike hailing St-Pierre as one of the best to ever do it.
Check out some of the most heartfelt reactions to St-Pierre’s retirement from the Twitter-verse:
— Dana White (@danawhite) February 21, 2019
Une véritable légende. Je vous souhaite une excellente retraite, GSP. Thank you for representing Canada in the octagon with skill, sportsmanship and the heart of a champion. https://t.co/pMFKYIh1oP
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 21, 2019
Thank you for everything you’ve done for our sport @GeorgesStPierre you’re a role model of a champ and a big inspiration for me. Enjoy you retirement.
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) February 21, 2019
— CRIS CYBORG (@criscyborg) February 21, 2019
— Leonardo Santos (@LeoSantosbjj) February 21, 2019
The best to ever do it, had it all world class Wrestling 🤼🏻♂️ Striking 🥊 Jiujitsu 🥋 most importantly Heart ❤ and the nicest guy you will ever meet.
Pleasure i got to learn from you when i was over at 🌟🌟🌟
— Paul Redmond (@RedserMma) February 21, 2019
Thank you for everything you did for our sport @GeorgesStPierre you’re a living legend my friend
— Alistair Overeem (@Alistairovereem) February 21, 2019
Here’s how fans paid tribute to the French-Canadian MMA legend:
— Matt. 🐔 (@Matt4RD) February 22, 2019
Respect to a legend.
Georges St-Pierre will go down in mma history as one of the greatest to ever do it. Merci GSP 🇨🇦👋🏼 pic.twitter.com/QHhyGqxBTf
— Ryder (@ryderalcaraz) February 22, 2019
Georges St-Pierre retired today. He was one of the absolute best mixed martial artists ever. Maybe the best. One of the true pioneers of the sport and one of the fighters I was really drawn to. Congrats a on a fantastic career!! @GeorgesStPierre
— Jacob Moore (@jabo1331) February 22, 2019
I've idolized Georges for over 14 years and while I'm saddened to see him formally step away, I'm also so incredibly proud of his contributions to this world.
There are few individuals both in death or life that I wholeheartedly admire and respect more than Georges St-Pierre.
— Chris Toplack (@christoplack) February 22, 2019
Thank you, GSP, for the 15 years of your illustrious MMA career! The sport will never be the same without you.
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/Mr Neustroev and Jeff Kangaruh)