Why is Georges St-Pierre a big deal? 5 fights that defined a UFC legend

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Take heed, combat followers. The return of Georges St-Pierre in a middleweight title combat with Michael Bisping at UFC 217 on Saturday is nigh at hand.

If, like me, you’re questioning why that doesn’t appear to be an even bigger deal to extra individuals, perhaps it’s time to think about so much has modified within the 4 years since St-Pierre final fought, and people modifications may embrace some severe shifts within the fanbase.

For occasion, you would have first found an curiosity in MMA halfway by way of your freshman 12 months, gotten progressively extra into it throughout your sophomore and junior years, then graduated as a sensible and haggard senior all with out ever having really lived by way of a GSP combat.

You may have watched each second of the final 161 UFC occasions, which might have taken roughly 1,000 hours of your life, and nonetheless by no means have seen the previous longstanding welterweight champion in motion.

UFC 217 preview: The historic numbers behind Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre

What’s it to you if he’s coming again now? And if he’s so nice, why doesn’t he have a bunch of fight-ending highlights floating across the web? There’s not a single clip of him yelling at somebody whereas throwing an vitality drink on the man’s head, so how essential may he be?

All truthful factors (form of). So right here, let’s look again on the defining moments that made St-Pierre an MMA nice – even when we’ve got to see into the non-HD vault of UFC combat footage to do it.

It’s loopy to badume GSP acquired his first crack on the UFC title in simply his third combat with the promotion, and his eighth professional combat general. What’s even crazier is that he misplaced, getting armbarred by Matt Hughes for the primary lack of his profession in a battle for the vacant 170-pound title belt.

It was a crushing blow for the 23 year-old St-Pierre, however a 12 months later he was again close to the highest of the welterweight division, having reeled off 4 wins in a row. The final got here towards Sean Sherk, who would later develop into UFC light-weight champ, however on that evening he was little greater than a punching bag for an even bigger, stronger GSP.

But what was actually notable concerning the combat was what got here after. During a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, St-Pierre actually acquired down on his knees and begged “UFC management” for one more likelihood on the title. It succeeded in serving to him stand out, particularly for the reason that very subsequent combat on the cardboard noticed the champion Hughes defeat Joe Riggs by way of submission.

Why did Georges St-Pierre depart? Before UFC 217 return, GSP discusses self-imposed exile

In his rematch with the champion, St-Pierre vowed that he wouldn’t make the identical mistake he did within the first combat. That mistake? “I gave him too much respect,” St-Pierre stated.

He was already on the trail to avoiding that error some two months earlier than the combat, when he confirmed up at Hughes’ title protection towards B.J. Penn at UFC 63 (a spot that was presupposed to be St-Pierre’s earlier than damage pressured him out of the combat) and hugged the victorious champion earlier than dropping one among his most well-known strains.

“I’m very glad you won that fight, Matt,” St-Pierre stated into the microphone. “But I’m not impressed with your performance.”

By St-Pierre requirements, it was blisteringly extreme trash discuss. He would meet Hughes within the rematch two months later, and this time it was a unique St-Pierre who confirmed up. Confident, aggressive, he attacked the champion with a various placing badault, dropping him with badist from his signature Superman punch late within the first, then ending him with a head kick adopted by ground-and-pound early within the second.

At the time it felt like a monumental shift. After two lengthy stints as champ, the primary interrupted solely briefly by a loss to Penn, Hughes felt just like the welterweight champion of report for a lot of MMA followers. Seeing him so simply dethroned appeared to mark the start of a brand new period – one that will proceed for the higher a part of the subsequent seven years, with just one transient pause …

Georges St-Pierre acquired revenge on Matt Serra however not earlier than one of the crucial beautiful upsets in MMA historical past.

Any dialog concerning the greatest upsets in MMA historical past should inevitably embrace GSP’s first combat with Serra, who got here into the bout as a roughly Eight-1 underdog and left because the UFC welterweight champion. This was the unthinkable in motion. Serra had earned the shot by profitable the welterweight division of a “comeback” season on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Coming into the bout, he appeared much less like a threatening challenger and extra like a person in possession of a sure form of lottery ticket.

That all modified when Serra’s proper hand discovered the candy spot simply behind St-Pierre’s ear. Soon the 13-1 favourite was stumbling like a new child fawn, and Serra was swarming in for extra. When the combat was lastly stopped and the belt strapped round his waist, even Serra gave the impression to be in a state of shock.

Before UFC 217 headliner, watch Georges St-Pierre get revenge on Matt Serra to reclaim title

As for GSP, he grew to become obsessive about, in his phrases, “revenge.” He wished nothing greater than to beat Serra and reclaim his title. As he would later inform it, a sports activities psychiatrist he was working with in contrast his single-minded focus to a brick that was weighing him down day after day.

“He made me get a brick, and I wrote ‘Matt Serra’ on it, and he said, ‘When you are ready to release that brick and look to the future, you’re going to take this brick and throw it into the river.’ It sounds stupid, but that’s what I did,” St-Pierre stated. “I think it helped me to release a lot of the negative energy that I had. Instead of focusing, I kept my eyes off of the goal. So now I’m focused again on the goal. I think this helped me a lot.”

After a call win over Josh Koscheck, adopted by a submission over Hughes within the rubber match for an interim title, St-Pierre acquired one other shot at Serra nearly precisely one 12 months after their first combat. This time GSP took no probabilities. After touching gloves to start out the combat, he instantly took Serra down after which started a scientific destruction that lastly ended with a barrage of knees to the physique of a downed and exhausted Serra late within the second spherical. He had avenged his solely loss as champion. And he has but to lose once more.

Georges St-Pierre dominated B.J. Penn at UFC 94.

GSP’s path to profitable the title within the first place had gone straight by way of one other former champion in Penn, who he narrowly defeated by way of cut up choice after being bloodied early on in a three-round combat at UFC 58. After Penn’s follow-up loss to Hughes, he returned to light-weight, the place he quickly received the vacant title earlier than defending it towards Sherk, who’d been stripped of the belt after testing optimistic for steroids in 2007.

But Penn couldn’t appear to overlook about St-Pierre, and shortly he was speaking about going again up in weight for a champion-vs.-champion conflict with the welterweight titleholder. The UFC apparently favored the concept sufficient to place extra promotional muscle than regular behind the bout, together with a brand new preview present known as “UFC Primetime,” which confirmed each males’s preparations (although it additionally led to some criticism of Penn’s coaching habits and work ethic).

St-Pierre would dominate Penn within the combat, finally forcing a nook stoppage on the finish of the fourth spherical, however controversy quickly adopted. Penn and his staff pointed towards a second earlier within the combat, when one among GSP’s coaches – muay thai specialist and normal guru Phil Nurse – appeared to rub Vaseline on St-Pierre’s chest between rounds.

Penn took his criticism to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which heard from nearly everybody – together with Penn’s mom – in a listening to on the matter. St-Pierre and his staff insisted that any violation of the principles was unintended, however for a time the accusation threatened to stay to the champion. Other earlier opponents popped up with complaints that GSP felt “greasy” throughout their fights, although it was exhausting to inform what was severe accusation and what was simply bitter grapes.

Ultimately, the NSAC took no motion towards St-Pierre, and Penn needed to reside with the lopsided loss. Though St-Pierre would go on to defend his title seven extra instances, the victory over Penn was his final stoppage win so far.

Georges St-Pierre eked out a controversial win over Johny Hednricks at UFC 167.

After going to his “dark place” to beat Nick Diaz in March 2013, St-Pierre returned in November to face a harmful contender on a six-fight profitable streak. Hendricks made for an attention-grabbing opponent as a result of he appeared to pose a brand new form of problem for St-Pierre. His background as an NCAA nationwide champion wrestler meant he wouldn’t be as simple to take down as previous opponents like Diaz and Carlos Condit, and his string of knockout victories prompt he may harm the champion on the ft.

In a whole lot of methods, Hendricks lived as much as these guarantees. Over 5 shut rounds, Hendricks appeared to harm St-Pierre with strikes at a number of factors, leaving his already bruise-prone face trying like a lump of spoiled fruit by the top.

Georges St-Pierre after UFC 167.

Still, two of the three judges noticed it for St-Pierre, shocking many followers and fellow fighters who thought Hendricks had accomplished sufficient to take the title. In the cage after the win, GSP threw extra gasoline on the hearth. He was “stepping away” from the game of MMA, he advised Rogan. He refused to clarify why, or to say if or when he may return.

At the following post-fight press convention, UFC President Dana White was furious. Much of his ire was directed on the judges and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which he known as “atrocious” and in want of an intervention from the governor’s workplace.

But as White ranted and raved – all earlier than St-Pierre had arrived – he additionally complained about St-Pierre’s post-fight feedback.

“He didn’t say he was going to retire,” White stated of GSP. “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.”

St-Pierre, nonetheless, was determined. He’d made up his thoughts. Having his boss scream at him whereas he was out of the room didn’t appear to melt his stance any.

“I’ve being fighting for a very long time at a high level,” St-Pierre stated. “It’s a lot of pressure. I’ve decided I need to take time off. I vacated my title for the respect of other competitors. One day, when I feel like it, I might come back. But right now, I need a break.”

And that was the final we noticed of him within the UFC. Until now.

For extra on UFC 217, try the UFC Rumors part of the positioning.

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