Georges St-Pierre is one of the few fighters in MMA to go out atop the peak of the mountain. Khabib Nurmagomedov recently did the same.
Despite the known interest that Nurmagomedov had to reach 30-0 in his career with a victory over the legendary St-Pierre, “The Eagle” instead called it quits at 29-0. With all things considered, the iconic Canada native believes he knows why UFC President Dana White is so reluctant to let Nurmagomedov ride off into the sunset.
“In UFC, the way they promote it is ‘UFC 259,’ that’s the UFC, they promote the UFC, then you have the two guys,” St-Pierre told ESPN. “So it’s just a different way they promote the sport. I think the promotion should be more centered on the athlete than the promotion because there’s all kinds of titles. The title is just a meaning. Even if you’re champion, doesn’t mean that people think that you are the best in the world if you are champion. You can be champion, but you haven’t fought the best guy. People are not stupid. People know that.
“For that reason I believe they want to keep Khabib in because they feel like Khabib is undefeated. He has probably the most dominant career ever. I don’t even know if he lost a round—He might have lost a round but he dominate all his opponents.”
St-Pierre compared the UFC business model to that of boxing which has the events titled as the fighters’ names who are competing. He also noted how Nurmagomedov is in the same boat as he was now and that the UFC was mad at him for not continuing to keep the ball rolling as champion.
The now 39-year-old former welterweight king in St-Pierre first announced his retirement – or hiatus from the sport – in 2013 following his split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. At this point, “Rush” had defended his crown nine consecutive times at 170-pounds.
Four years later and St-Pierre returned – this time at 185-pounds to challenge champion, Michael Bisping. Needing only three rounds, St-Pierre got the job done and submitted Bisping via rear-naked choke. Once more, the TriStar product would leave on top.
Currently, Nurmagomedov remains the holder of the lightweight title.
“They don’t want him to leave on his terms, they want a guy to beat him, then after they gonna be like, ‘Okay, now you can leave,'” St-Pierre said. “But Khabib is smart, I think he’s very smart, he left on top, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”