Georges St. Pierre leaves as he entered, with class and respect

Earlier today, long time UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) announced that he was vacating his title to take some much needed time off.

His words:

” I’ve been fighting for a very long time at a high level, it’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism,” St-Pierre stated. ”I decided I needed to take time off, I know the UFC is a business and they can’t wait on my personal [business] they need to keep things rolling. I’m vacating my title for the other competitors.”

Much has been made of GSP’s newly announced ‘semi retirement,’ some people saying that it was the right decision, while others accuse him of being afraid of a rematch with Johny Hendricks.

Regardless of our opinions, the fact is that St. Pierre walked out on his own terms and with class, and that should be respected. He left fans with no promises, no guarantees, just a glimmer of hope that the rating “Pay-Per-View King” may one day find his way back in to the octagon.

Even UFC President Dana White seemed to be onboard with GSP’s decision to step away, as he stated today:

“I agree with Georges 100%, I think it’s the right move.”

That statement was a far cry from Dana’s initial reaction to the possibility of losing GSP for an extended period of time, as he had previously blew up at the UFC 167 post-fight press conference when Georges broke the news. Still, days later, Dana assured fans that St. Pierre would not only be back but would rematch Hendricks in the near future.

Maybe father time allowed the UFC president to look at things from GSP’s perspective. After all, Georges has been fighting in the octagon since 2004, debuting in the UFC with a win over Karo Parisyan at UFC 46. So it’s been almost 10 years! Not only that, but St. Pierre has been fighting top-level competition basically from his debut.

His UFC accomplishments speak for themselves in terms of his commitment to the organization:

-Most wins in the UFC (19)
-Most title bout wins in the UFC (12)
-Most time spent inside the octagon 5 hours 28 minutes 12 seconds

GSP is without a doubt the greatest welterweight fighter in the history of the UFC. He steps away on the heels of an 11-fight win streak which included 9 welterweight title defenses.

Georges was not only a great champion, but a great ambassador for the sport of mixed martial arts as well. He was classy both in victory and defeat and is thought by many fans to be the greatest athlete to ever fight in the UFC.

The stress of being a champion obviously weighed heavy on the shoulders of St. Pierre. The expectations of him were always high, yet he consistently delivered for the UFC. How can we blame the guy for wanting to take a break after giving so much?

The fact is, not many fighters, or players in any other sport for that matter, get the chance to walk away on top. Not only that, but Georges gets to walk away in good health, which unfortunately is not always the common outcome.

If his heart is no longer in it then why bother? He owes nothing to nobody, has nothing to prove, and can clearly live comfortably after making a ton of money during his time with the UFC.

Regardless if he decides to come back or not, we owe it to say thank you to Georges St. Pierre for all of his contributions to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. He deserves to enjoy this well deserved time away from the sport and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM