Legendary MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre is officially in the UFC Hall of Fame. The 3 time UFC Welterweight and 1 time UFC Middleweight champion attended the induction ceremony that was held in Las Vegas on September 24.
This is well-deserved recognition for a martial artist is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, if not the very best of all. But the Octagon is only one place that GSP has shone over the course of he’s career. In addition to being a brilliant and history-making mixed martial artist, he’s also a great representative of Karate, and an excellent role model in general.
To celebrate his most recent honor, we’d like to dedicate this week’s blog to GSP. Let’s take a look at his introduction to martial arts, his MMA career, and his lasting influence.
How did Georges St-Pierre get into martial arts?
Georges St-Pierre’s introduction to the martial arts world is probably a familiar story for far too many of us. As a child, he was bullied at school. “Growing up, I was a kid that lacked a lot of confidence,” GSP said in a recent appearance on MMA Junkie’s Legend 2 Legend. “Like in nature, predatory animals always hunt the weakest group. I was one of those. I didn’t have god self-confidence, and the way I used to carry myself is much different than the way it is now. I used to walk down, look down, shrug my shoulders. It showed in my demeanor, and I think that’s the main reason I was getting picked on.”
In an effort to build his son’s self-esteem, and give him the tools to defend himself if necessary, his father enrolled St-Pierre in Kyokushin Karate when he was 7. It worked far better than he could have imagined. “Martial arts, of course, taught me self-defense, but it also taught me confidence, that confidence is a choice. I changed the way I was carrying myself,” St-Pierre explained. “I didn’t shrug my shoulders and look down anymore. I was walking straight with some kind of confidence.
In addition to his new outlet, the young St-Pierre also developed a passion—and a talent—for martial arts. By 12, he was a 2nd dan Kyokushin Karate black belt. Then he sat down to watch something called UFC 1. Inspired by Royce Gracie’s performance, he decided to dedicate his life to mixed martial arts. He soon aded boxing, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his arsenal. Just four years later, he had his first amateur fight.
Georges “Rush” St-Pierre’s MMA Career: The Early Years
GSP made his professional debut at 21, scoring a TKO over Ivan Menjivar at UCC 7: Bad Boyz in Montreal on January 25, 2002. He spent the next two years racking up wins in Quebec’s fledgling MMA scene before joining the UFC with a 5-0 record in early 2004.
St-Pierre was victorious in his debut against Karo Parisyan at UFC 46 (January 31, 2004) and scored a fast TKO win over Jay Hieron at UFC 48 (June 19, 2004). But in October of that year, he faced the first major roadblock of his career: a frustrating first round submission loss to Matt Hughes for the vacant UFC Weltwerweight belt at UFC 50.
He didn’t stay down for long, though. Following a tune-up match in Montreal in early 2005, St-Pierre returned to the UFC in April for UFC 52. It was the beginning of a five win streak that culminated in him avenging his loss to Hughes at UFC 65 in November, and winning the Welterweight belt for the first time. A crisis of confidence led to GSP dropping the belt to in an upset loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69 (April 7, 2007) in his first defence, though.
It was a surprising and devastating loss, but St-Pierre was determined to learn from the experience and once again improve himself. By August, he was back in the Octagon and back on the path to the belt with a unanimous decision over Josh Koscheck. Then he won the interim UFC Welterweight Championship in an impressive and dominant showing against Matt Hughes at UFC 83 on his home turf in Montreal. Finally, at UFC 83, he defeated Matt Sera to officially become the undisputed Welterweight champ.
St-Pierre continued to defend his belt undefeated until 2013, when he vacated the title and took a break from MMA. Almost exactly four years later, he returned for a UFC Middleweight Championship match against Michael Bisping UFC 217. He later vacated that title as well, and retired with a 26-2 record and a long list of victories over some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts.
What is Georges St-Pierre’s legacy?
Georges St-Pierre has undeniably been a positive influence on the UFC and the greater martial arts world. His fighting style, his dominance, and his composure in and out of the Octagon will leave a lasting mark on mixed martial arts. He’s shifted how people think about Karate in MMA. He’s an inspiration to a whole new generation of martial artists. And he will rightfully be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.
It’s important to GSP that he’s remembered for more than his fighting, though. “I’ve always wanted to be a champion but it also meant a lot to me to have a positive impact on my sport,” St-Pierre said at the Hall of Fame ceremony. “To change the game. When I retired from competition, I did with great pride at having made that impact.”