'There's no tears': UFC legend Georges St-Pierre formally announces MMA retirement
St-Pierre, 37, was rumored to be chasing a highly-lucrative 'legacy fight' against Russian UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov but after talks for that bout broke down, the French-Canadian fighter has opted to hang up his gloves permanently.
GSP made the announcement at a press conference in Montreal's Bell Center, the scene of his welterweight title victory against Matt Serra, as well as a title defence against Josh Koscheck.Also on rt.com 'The best ever': MMA community salutes icon Georges St-Pierre ahead of impending retirement
St-Pierre thanked many prominent figures who have guided his journey through mixed martial arts, including grappling coach John Danaher, Firas Zahabi, Freddie Roach and others.
"There's no tears, I'm very happy to do it," St-Pierre said.
"It takes a lot of discipline to retire on top, it was a long process in my mind but it's time to do it. I always said I want to retire on my own and not be told to retire. It takes discipline, and in full contact sport that is how you should retire - on top.
"I'm happy I had the discipline and wisdom to do it."
I’m announcing my retirement from the UFC and mixed martial arts competition. I intend to keep training and practicing martial arts for as long as I live, but now is the time that I chose to end my career as a professional MMA athlete. Read my official statement in the images. pic.twitter.com/uMP0LE5XeF— Georges St-Pierre (@GeorgesStPierre) February 21, 2019
"When I was young, the reason why I started doing mixed martial arts is because I watched Royce Gracie growing up when he won the first UFC,” St-Pierre added. "At that particular moment, I knew exactly that’s what I wanted to do. It’s weird, it’s like I had a vision. So I want to say thank you to Royce Gracie for inspiring me. Also thank you to (Canadian kickboxer) Jean-Yves Theriault for inspiring me, not only as an athlete, as a good role model."
St-Pierre also reserved praise for perhaps the most famous Canadian athlete of them all, Wayne Gretzky.
"And thank you to Wayne Gretzky. He’s probably the best athlete all sports combined, his records will probably never be broken. Not only is he an incredible athlete, for me he’s an incredible role model and through my career I always tried to mold myself like Wayne Gretzky."
St-Pierre revealed that both he and Khabib Nurmagomedov were interested in facing each other later this year but, according to GSP, the UFC had other plans for their lightweight champion.
This will come as a disappointment to the Russian, who pleaded with St-Pierre to delay his retirement moments after news broke on Wednesday.Also on rt.com 'After this fight, you can retire': Khabib teases hero GSP with November swan song
Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White has paid tribute to St-Pierre's influence on mixed martial arts.
"Georges has cemented his legacy," White said in a statement.
"He beat all the top guys during his welterweight title reign and even went up a weight class to win the middleweight championship. He spent years as one of the biggest names in MMA and remains one of the best ambassadors for the sport. He put Canada on the MMA map."