On November 16, 2013, Georges St-Pierre defeated Johny Hendricks via split decision in front of a reported crowd of 14,856 fans. The win was St-Pierre’s 12th straight victory and gave him a record nine consecutive UFC welterweight title defenses.
St-Pierre then stunned the crowd — and UFC president Dana White — when he told UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “Listen everyone, there was a lot of talk about what is going to happen. I have a bunch of stuff in my life happening. I need to hang my gloves up for a little bit, at least, and make a point on my life.”
Rogan, looking to make sense of what St-Pierre said, asked him if he was retiring.
“I have to go away for a little bit at least. Personal things are happening. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the UFC,” said St-Pierre. “I have to step away for a bit, that’s all I can say right now. Later on, I’ll make a point about that. Right now I have to go away for a little bit.”
In December 2013, St-Pierre abdicated his 170-pound crown. He didn’t fight again until November 2017 when he scored a technical submission win over Michael Bisping to capture the UFC middleweight title. Not long after that, St-Pierre relinquished that belt. He has not fought since.
St-Pierre recently spoke about the reasons he left the UFC in 2013 and one reason was his mental health. The former two-division champion previously opened up about struggling with OCD and “unbearable” anxiety that made him hate fighting, and now he also shared that he was going through depression during that time.
“I think I just needed vacation, and I was in some kind of depression at the time,” St-Pierre told Burt Watson (via MMA Junkie). “I was ashamed to admit it because I had a dream life. I have a lot of money, I’m healthy, and I was ashamed to admit that I was going towards depression, because I didn’t know how people would think about me. They would be like, ‘Oh, what does he have to complain for? He’s champion of the world, he’s rich, what the hell is he complaining for?’ So I was ashamed, but I was going through mental depression and on top of that I was fighting in the UFC against performance-enhancing drugs, and I had a lot of personal issues. I just needed a break.”
After St-Pierre announced he was stepping away, White went on a rant about how the Canadian fighter owed the UFC and its fans.
“He didn’t say he was going to retire,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “He said I’m going to take some time off. You don’t just say, ‘Hey I’m going to take some time off, maybe I’ll be back, maybe I won’t.’ You owe it to the fans, you owe it to that belt, you owe it to this company, and you owe it to Johny Hendricks to give him that opportunity to fight again, unless you’re going to retire.”
“There’s no, ‘Hey listen, I’m going to go on a cruise and I’m going to be gone for two years. I’m going to take a hiatus. I’m going to take a leave of absence. Whatever the hell it was he was saying, that’s not how it works,” White continued.
With White’s reaction to St-Pierre’s announcement, it’s no wonder St-Pierre felt conflicted about going public with his mental and emotional struggles back in 2013. It might have taken St-Pierre a long while to reveal the pressure he was under, but it helps that he opened up.