UFC Hall of Fame legend, Georges St-Pierre, had an immaculate MMA career from 2002 to 2013, plus an epic swan song in 2017. During this time, “Rush” won the UFC welterweight title twice, defended the belt nine times, and then came out of a four-year retirement to capture the middleweight crown — just to ride off into the sunset still on top with a phenomenal record of 26-2.
Bloody Elbow caught up with Georges to discuss an array of topics. He gives advice to help other fighters exit the sport on their own terms, speaks about teaming up with Bluechip to launch a new clothing line, and then gives a rundown on what changes he thinks need to be made within the sport — and what it’ll take for that happen. St. Pierre even admits to being created in a laboratory by aliens... jokingly of course… or is he?
1. Your level of accomplishment is out of this world, so I have to ask, are you even human?
“Haha nope. I’ve been made in the laboratory by aliens. No I’m kidding; I’m a human being and I tried to do my best. You talk about the status of GOAT; there’s a lot of guys that could be GOAT. Depends what you look for.”
2. Does it make you feel weird when people call you the GOAT?
“I know I performed very well. I’m among the best in my sport. I’m aware of it. I’ve been honest. I think I deserve to be among the best of my sport. I don’t know if I’m the best, but I did very well in the sport. I was champion for a long time, but there’s also a lot of other guys that deserve that status as well.”
3. The level of success you’ve reached is so astonishing. Where does your drive come from?
“I had an obsession when I was competing. I was obsessed with becoming the best. I did not only want to be champion, I wanted to be the best. At the time when I was competing, it was very important, for me, of what the fans, what the people think about me. I always wanted to be known as the best. I was not only competing against the guy I was about to fight, I was competing against the other guys in other divisions to be the best.”
4. Reason for retirement?
“The reason I took my retirement is, I realized at one point in my life is like, what’s important in life is not what other people think about you. You shouldn’t care much about that. What you should care, is what people who love you, and who you love, think about you. That’s what really matters. When that shift happened, that’s when I told myself, ‘you know what, I’m done. It’s finished. It’s time to call it.’ I had a shift in mentality and I was not as hungry as I used to be, so therefore that’s why I retired.”
5. In sports like football, baseball, or basketball when a player starts to age through their career they might throw more interceptions, or miss more shots — but in MMA we have to watch our heroes get beat up... and that’s tough. You’re an exception to that, though, so do you have any advice to help other fighters come up with a better way to go out on their own terms?
“Oh yeah. 100%. My advice would be make your money, cash out, and get the hell out of here! Preserve your health! Especially in our sport, it’s not a game. It’s very serious business. You can say you play basketball, you play hockey, but you don’t play fighting. I always wanted to retire on top. Maybe I feel that I left money on the table when I retired, because I think could have win a couple other fights against the best in the world, but I had a mental shift...”
“Even if you feel you leave money on the table, I know that when you retire and your stock is high, when you turn around there’s a lot of opportunities that are open to you. Those opportunities, those doors might not have been opened if I would have retired on a losing streak. You want to retire when your stock is high, so the money that you think you lost, you left on the table, you will make it in the long term. You will make more money. On top of that, you will preserve your health and well-being, which is the most important thing. So, I always found out it’s kind of sad when I see some of the legends retiring too late. It hurts me.”
6. When you’re watching the fights do you ever get the itch to get back in there?
“Oh man, it’s the opposite for me. When I watch them fight I’m like ‘man, I’m so happy I don’t do this shit for a living anymore!’ Hahaha! I had a mental switch. I don’t have that thing. I don’t see it this way anymore.”
7. I saw you on social media pinning the grappling GOAT, Gordon Ryan. What are the chances that we see you competing in a Jiu-Jitsu arena?
“If it’s well-organized, if it’s well-done, I’m open to it. I was ready to go for a boxing fight against Oscar De La Hoya, quite recently. It was a modified boxing fight with bigger gloves. I would have done it. If it’s maybe for a good cause, a charity. Because I’m not competing to prove I’m the best fighter in the world anymore. I’m competing just to showcase that I don’t take myself too seriously. Something is well-organized and it’s a challenge that excites me, maybe. It has to be a novelty fight, something for the fans.”
8. During your career did you ever find it difficult to maintain a balance between work and your personal life?
“Yeah it’s very hard because when you’re a fighter, you have to be very selfish. Everything is about your performance, about you, you, you. Me, how can I get myself better? How can I improve this? With everything that I’ve done, how can I stay on top for the competition not reaching me? How can I still improve? They say you cannot fix something that is not broken, but that is not true. You can always make it always better. How can you improve, improve, improve, improve? It’s all about this mindset. Being a fighter, to be successful, you need to be very selfish, so it’s very hard to have a good personal life while you’re living like this. You always try to come first, and in life that’s not how it should be. You should put people that you love first.”
9. As you rose to fame, how did you stay grounded and true to yourself as the money came flowing in, your notoriety went up, and the fights were getting harder?
“I am lucky that I have a good family that is always close to me. That I have very good friends that are not afraid to tell me the truth. They are not yes-men. If I’m doing something wrong, they will tell me, ‘say Georges, what you did is wrong. You shouldn’t have done that.’ That’s why I think it helps me to stay grounded.”
10. That’s huge! I’m a big believer in that as well. If you love someone, you’ve got to tell them not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.
“When I have a friend that is not afraid to tell me what he thinks, I know he’s my real friend. Even if we disagree, but he’s telling me the truth, he’s my real friend. He’s not a yes-man.”
11. Tell me about teaming up with Bluechip to launch your clothing line. You have hats, shirts, and hoodies. How did this venture come about?
“You always want to leave a legacy for your fans to be remembered. I don’t compete anymore, so I teamed up with Bluechip. It’s a great company. They’re the best in their field. I have a friend, Eric Williams, that he shot a lot of pictures through all my career, so the pictures are very authentic. They reflect all the values that I stand for as an athlete, as a martial artist. This collection is really for the fans. It reflects different emotions, and it’s very interesting. It’s a very authentic collection to me, and it has been made for the fans.”
12. Do you think active UFC fighters can do something similar, or do their contracts prohibit them from using their own likeness to sell apparel?
“I am not sure. I think they can’t do it while they are active. They have to wait until they are retired. I think it’s good, too, because when you’re retired, once you don’t compete, that’s a way to prolong your legacy. For your legacy you want to leave something. It’s important.”
13. If there was one thing you could change about the UFC, or the sport in general, what would it be?
“There will be a lot of things. The contract, I think it should be a partnership. All the best fighters that helped the UFC grow should touch a piece of the pie of the pay-per-view revenue. This is very important. I think fighters should be able to have their brand. To showcase their brand. They should be able to promote their brand. I think UFC fighters shouldn’t be tied up with UFC once they retire.
“I think the UFC fighters should have insurance for medicals that reach beyond the end of their career with UFC. If you fight for a very long time for this organization, maybe you get brain damage, and those damage, they might not showcase while you’re an active fighter, they might showcase later on. So, you should be able to to touch a niche insurance, or some kinds of health benefit to this. There’s a lot of things I think should be done...”
“There’s a lot of work to do to improve the condition of the fighters. I think it will happen, but in order to happen, all the fighters need to get together to make it happen. It has been tried before, but it was unsuccessful.”
14. Why do you think it was so unsuccessful, and why is it so hard to get everyone on the same page?
“Because it’s money. Everybody wanted to pull the thing on their side. I think that’s why. I think that the intention was good, but the way it was managed, maybe it was because of money. I think it should be someone is doing it, it should be truly because he wants to do it and he doesn’t care about the money. It should be someone that has so much money that he doesn’t care, but he’s such a fan of the sport that he does it just to improve the condition of the fighters.”
15. Maybe someone like Georges St-Pierre?
“Haha maybe. Maybe, but right now right now I have a lot of other things I need to take care of before I reach that status. But I’m always there for the fighters. If I like the idea, if there’s something I can do to help, I’m always there.”
You can follow Eddie on twitter — @TheEddieMercado and you can find us @BloodyElbow. Check out Georges St-Pierre’s official twitter while you’re there — @GeorgesStPierre. For more on GSP be sure to check out his website: gspofficial.com.
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