UFC: GSP Opens Up On The One Regret In His Career
During the broadcast of UFC 249, the world learned that Georges St-Pierre was being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. And while debates regarding the greatest pound-for-pound MMA fighter of all time have never been more hotly contested, GSP remains humble and largely silent in advocating his own legacy.
Speaking with South China Morning Post this week, St-Pierre instead chose to reflect on his own reactions to the news and his own sentiments surrounding his career.
“I don’t really have the words to describe how I feel. I’ve been lucky. I am standing on the shoulders of giants. There have been some other great athletes before me who inspired me to accomplish what I have done. They led the way.”
Ever-humble and self-effacing, St-Pierre described his admission to the Hall of Fame as a major landmark in his career that, though surprising to few, still afforded him the chance to be grateful for the honour and recognition.
“I really believe that once you are a champion, you are always a champion,” St-Pierre said. “To be a Hall of Famer is a great honour. You’re in a different zone now, you’re among the elite. And for me to be among the elite in the sport of mixed martial arts, it’s the greatest honour.”
As always, GSP was not afraid to be vulnerable and to address the ways in which mixed martial arts helped him grapple with his own demons.
“Being bullied helped me deal with the situations I faced later, in my career,” admitted GSP. “Because when I was young, and five guys would wait for me at the bus stop and they were older than me, and I would get my ass kicked, I was scared. But fighting a guy I know I am going to beat because I am better than him, that doesn’t scare me.
“In my sport there is a lot of mental warfare. There is a lot of trash talking. There is a lot of intimidation. A lot of my opponents tried to intimidate me. It didn’t work. I’ve always been scared, of course, but I am scared of not being good enough, of not performing, or not being as good as I want to be. That’s what I am scared of. I am scared of myself in a way.”
Elaborating further upon what it took for him to attain his heights of success as a UFC champion, St-Pierre noted that he was forced to compartmentalise his life and mental space in order to separate his performances in the cage from his personality beyond it.
“When you fight it is a little bit like you have to be a super hero, like Clarke Kent turning into Superman. Batman and Bruce Wayne,” he insisted. “You’re the same guy but you are two different characters. And that’s what I become, a little bit. When I fight, I fight. When I go home I go home. And I don’t like to bring my work home.
“When I’m home or with my friends and family, I’m a nice guy. I’m a different person. My job was to hurt people. I never wanted to hurt someone but I had to do that to win. To win you have to hurt people. I needed to become someone else, unlike the person I am in real life. But when I train I still unleash the beast.”
But if this rings of bravado, do not be mistaken: GSP is known to fans for being very open and honest about his fears, anxieties, and mental health struggles. Describing his process prior to a fight, ‘Rush’ noted that he preferred to feel fear and pressure.
“I was always very scared,” says St-Pierre. “I couldn’t sleep well the night, a few nights, before the fight. It’s my fault a little bit because you control your own mind and I always performed better when I put pressure on myself, when I felt like I was on the edge. So I forced myself to feel that way, scared I wouldn’t win, or I would be humiliated.
“But the stress took a lot out of me and that’s one of the reasons why I retired. I retired not because I can’t fight any more. I could fight again if I wanted to and I believe I could probably be one of the best, maybe the best. But I stopped because of the stress.”
Echoing something he said in earlier interviews, GSP noted that he did not necessarily enjoy the process of fighting and spoke of some regrets concerning his career.
“It was an unbearable feeling for me, so I never enjoyed it, the moment of competing and fighting,” noted GSP. “That’s something that, a little bit, I regret. I should have enjoyed it more. But in my sport a lot of people retire too late. Not only in MMA but in boxing. The fighter is always the last person to know when to retire. So one of the things I didn’t want to do is retire too late.
“Yeah you never say never but for me right now I am very satisfied with what I have done and I believe in an extreme sport like MMA that when you are satisfied then it’s the end.”
Do you believe Georges St-Pierre should return to the sport? Or should he stay retired and enjoy his legacy?