Georges St-Pierre left an indelible mark on the UFC during his time there. Widely regarded as the greatest welterweight champion in the history of the promotion, ‘Rush’ was a force to be reckoned with.
By the time he submitted Michael Bisping at UFC 217, St-Pierre was 26-2 at the professional level. In that time, St-Pierre racked up several impressive stats including the second-most title fight wins at 13 (Jon Jones broke his record last year) and the third longest combined reign as a UFC champion at 2,237 days (behind Anderson Silva at 2,457 and Amanda Nunes at 2,765 and counting).
An effective box office draw for the UFC, his retirements in 2013 and 2017 (the latter of which appears to be permanent) were met with sadness from fans and fury from Dana White.
One of the most accomplished mixed martial artists of all time, let’s take a look at why GSP might just be the GOAT.
#3. Georges St-Pierre was one of the most complete fighters in UFC history
Georges St-Pierre is the true definition of mixed martial artist. Practicing Kyokushin karate from age seven, GSP also took up boxing, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu in his adolescence. In doing so, he mastered all areas of hand-to-hand combat, becoming both a deadly striker and a devastating grappler in quick time.
Not only is GSP one of the most complete fighters in the history of MMA, he has the fight IQ to alter his style for any opponent. As a master on the feet and on the ground, GSP frequently changed it up on his foes to hit them in their weakest areas as combatants. Look no further than GSP’s final fight against English striker Michael Bisping. St-Pierre used his exceptional wrestling to ground ‘The Count’ and cut him off at the knee.
A true takedown artist, St-Pierre combined a fine-tuned karate stance with fast kicks, a lethal jab and an exhaustive ground game to dominate his opposition.
When it comes to being a master in all areas of mixed martial arts, St-Pierre has very few equals.
#2. He has a clean record
Of the many times he has been tested for PEDs, Georges St-Pierre has never been anything less than clean. GSP’s initial departure from the UFC in 2013 was partly due to his disdain for the UFC’s handling of drug use in MMA.
During an interview with Wealthsimple Magazine earlier this year, St-Pierre shared his thoughts on the pre-USADA days of the UFC:
"I left the UFC in 2013 because I was disgusted with the performance-enhancing drug problem in my sport. I saw the organization sometimes wanted to protect their athletes instead of going for the truth. I only came back when the UFC hired an organization called USADA to test their athletes. And as I expected, a lot of their champions failed their drug tests. So, when I saw that, I was like, 'Finally, the corruption is over.’”
‘Rush’ has always been very vocal of purported cheaters in the sport. Despite being an ardent supporter of USADA, GSP has lifted the lid on ways someone can cheat their testing system.
As it stands, Georges St-Pierre finished a legendary career without so much as a hint of a drug violation to his name. His passion for upping the crackdown on such behavior further adds to his impact on the sport.
#1. His divisional dominance
UFC’s welterweight division still lives under the long shadow of Georges St-Pierre. In fact, current champ Kamaru Usman is the first one since GSP left the division to really dominate the field to a similar level.
At UFC 50, St-Pierre suffered the first loss of his MMA career against Matt Hughes. Two years later at UFC 65, ‘Rush’ avenged the loss with a ferocious TKO win over Hughes for the UFC welterweight title. In one of the biggest upsets of 2007, St-Pierre dropped the gold to Matt Serra in his first defense at UFC 69. It was the final loss of his career.
Winning the interim welterweight strap in December 2007, St-Pierre crushed Serra at UFC 83 to unify the gold. From there, St-Pierre ousted all challengers for five years, racking up a whopping nine successful defenses. Following a controversial split-decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, St-Pierre took a break from fighting.
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His return in 2017 saw more of the same, this time in the middleweight division. GSP bowed out the same as before, a champion and now one of two divisions. His kingship over the welterweight scene remains a grand achievement in the UFC, one that rivals other long-term champions such as Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Jon Jones.