Shortly after his massive win at UFC 217, Georges St-Pierre spoke honestly about the intense and “unbearable” stress he deals with on each of his bouts. He says he loves martial arts and learning, but absolutely “hates” the pressure and the waiting which eats him up during fight week.
In the past, GSP has also constantly cited this mental stress as one of the things that took a toll and led to his extended break from competing.
“That’s a tremendous layoff,” Stann said on the Anik and Florian Podcast. “There is a huge difference — I don’t care what kind of shape you get into in the gym, in training camp. I don’t care if you measure everything, your resting heart rate, I don’t care — it’s all different when you’re actually in that Octagon in fight night.
“The bright lights, the anxiety, the nerves — GSP, he suffers from some of the worst anxiety I’ve ever seen in this sport, which makes what he did even more special.
“I thought he was fantastic, I thought he was technically very good. He did obviously slow down, but it was expected. It looked like Michael Bisping was taking over that fight, but GSP found a way to do it. It’s not like he did anything that was completely different from what we’ve seen before in his career, but the fact that he was able to come and fight at that level, after 4 years on the bench is absolutely outstanding to me.”
Apart from anxiety, St-Pierre also had to deal with numerous physical problems during the lead up, which likely stemmed from his new diet to gain weight. Becoming a two-division champion is an impressive accomplishment on his own, but learning how St-Pierre rose above all these issues just adds further context to what athletes like him go through before they can even attempt such incredible feats.
The retired fighter and analyst in Stann understands all this, and he made a case for St-Pierre being MMA’s greatest of all time.
“I’ve long thought he was the best to ever do it. I’ve transitioned recently to Demetrious Johnson. Now, with GSP coming back and doing that? I’ve got to say that GSP is the best ever,” he said.
“When you look at who he’s beaten, how long he has been dominant, and to come back now at this age, four years on the bench, and win a belt a weight class above?” he explained. “That’s a big jump. That’s a 15 lb difference. This isn’t boxing, where the weight class is 5 lbs higher. He went from fighting guys walking around 190, 185, to now fighting a guy who walks around at 225 in Michael Bisping. That’s a tremendous jump.”