There was a sense of shock felt around the MMA world when Georges vacated his title late 2013 following his controversial title defense against the now champ Johny Hendricks. Why would one of the greatest and most successful champions in UFC history renounce his throne? After all, GSP was still a young and apparently healthy man who should have many years ahead of him in MMA. Even Dana White said not long after GSP’s announcement that he didn’t feel the reason Georges give him was that big a deal.
Inevitably the conspiracy theories followed; Georges has mental issues, family issues, contractual issues, the list went on. Georges eventually released a statement:
“I’ve been fighting for a long time, I have 22 fights in the UFC, and 15 were for a world title. I’ve been fighting a long time at a high level, a lot of pressure and criticizing. I’ve decided I needed to take some time off. The UFC is a business; I’m vacating my title out of respect for the other competitors.”
Very strange in my opinion that a man at the very top of his game is telling the world that he doesn’t enjoy being at the place he trained so hard all his life to be. However, we must assume GSP’s reasons to be genuine; there is no doubt it does take a certain and strong mentality to cope with the huge fame, fortune and responsibility that comes with being a world champion athlete.
It could very well be that Georges physical strength is in stark contrast to his mental strength and he simply couldn’t cope any longer. In that case he has done the right thing. His health and happiness is priority.
Looking back at Georges recent career signs that things were not quite right were probably slowly manifesting themselves fight by fight. Frankly, Georges seemed to be losing some of the killer instinct that he had once shown. We all remember how he burst onto the scene and outclassed UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, twice, man handled Frank Trigg and smashed Matt Serra to name but a few.
Georges was billed as the ‘Future of MMA.’ That was a long time ago and things have changed. Georges record shows 7 straight decision wins gathered over a 4 year period. Granted a win’s a win regardless of how it is achieved but for such a decorated and naturally talented fighter to score no stoppages in 4 years is hardly awe inspiring, in fact it’s rather disappointing.
For me, it was more noticeable in the lead up to the Nick Diaz fight. Nick was doing what the Diaz brothers do, talking top level shit to really hype up the fight. Georges didn’t seem comfortable at all with that or the whole media circus that ensued, he just didn’t know how to respond to Diaz and seemed a little unnerved perhaps.
Of course GSP won the fight but it seemed he was holding back, something wasn’t quite right. Again, when he defended the belt against Johny Hendricks his heart wasn’t 100% in the fight, I got the impression that he couldn’t wait for it all to be over.
I was right, his heart wasn’t in the fight. He clearly knew way before the fight he was ready to call time on his MMA career. It is testament therefore that Georges still found the courage and the will power to step into the Octagon and retain, albeit controversially, his belt against a very dangerous opponent.
There is nothing I would love more than to see the GSP of old make a spectacular return to the Octagon some time soon and regain the title he never lost but my gut tells me we won’t see that side of Georges again. I think he has lost his desire. I think he has lost the killer instinct of a champion fighter and that is something that is hard to regain, especially after such a lengthy lay off.
This is why I think GSP should stay retired; to protect his legacy as the most successful UFC welterweight champion that ever lived, a champion that never lost his title and a fighter that will go down in the hall of fame as one of the greatest pound for pound fighters in MMA history. Financially GSP is set for life so money doesn’t come into play here, so why risk even the slightest blemish on his record for one more fight.
GSP should also look to Anderson Silva‘s career. Anderson is a fighting phenomenon and the only man, arguably, ahead of GSP in the P4P rankings, however Chris Weidman tarnished Anderson’s pristine UFC record not once but twice and in spectacular fashion.
A significant part of Anderson’s legacy was lost in those two fights. Like GSP, Anderson will one day have his name in the UFC Hall of Fame as a great champion, but no longer as the undefeated, seemingly immortal middleweight champion. No, it turned out Anderson was human after all.
GSP’s legacy however is still intact and this is why if his heart isn’t 100% in the fight, the right thing to do is stay retired. Let’s hope however that the MMA fire will once again burn inside his belly and we see our greatest welterweight champion reign once more.
I am sure we will find out soon enough what path Georges chooses.