On November 16, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre defended his title in a hard-fought split decision at UFC 167 against dangerous challenger Johny Hendricks. After the bout, St. Pierre was vague about his future, indicating that he would take some time away from the sport but stopping short of announcing a full retirement.
At the post-fight press conference, he told reporters, “I can’t sleep at night now. I’m going crazy. I have issues. I need to relax. I need to get out for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” His vague statements regarding his future plans have left the welterweight division in even greater turmoil than the controversial championship fight did by itself.
The title bout, which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, ended with the champion battered and bloody. Two of the three ringside judges, however, decided that he had done enough to edge the challenger in three of the five rounds.
St. Pierre said after the fight, “I am going to hang my gloves up for a little bit and make sense of my life. I have to go away for a little bit at least. Personal things are happening. I have to step away for a bit; that’s all I can say right now.” With that simple statement, a firestorm of furious speculation has been unleashed. Initial reports from TMZ stated the St. Pierre’s unnamed personal issues included a seriously ailing father and an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, but St. Pierre and members of his family have denied those rumors. Other reports have suggested that he was the target of a multi-million dollar lawsuit from former manager Shari Spencer, but she has denied that as well, leaving MMA fans none the wiser about what might actually be bothering the welterweight kingpin.
What ever those issues actually are, UFC president Dana White has stated, after speaking privately with St. Pierre, that they are more manageable than the champion might think, saying, “His problems aren’t as bad as he thinks they are. They’re personal problems…it might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not…He’s a strong kid. He’ll get through this…he wants to fight…I’m very confident he’s going to work it out.”
Several days later, White appeared full of even more such confidence. He said after cooling off and talking with St. Pierre, he was confident that the rematch between St. Pierre and Hendricks would take place before long. He stated, “As far as a rematch, we’re on schedule and I’ll have a date within a couple weeks. I feel confident that Georges is fine with that and all is on track.”
And, just yesterday, St. Pierre made his first public appearance since the fight in Edmonton. When asked if he was retiring, Pierre responded: “Because I’m an obsessive guy, I give myself a challenge which automatically will mean me working on it to obtain it. So right now I take a break. I don’t give myself any preference, you know. There is a chance I will come back.” St. Pierre continued: “I’m 32 years old and this is the first time I have my Christmas with my family. I spent some time but I never really had free time, total free time like I did. It was time for me to do it. I’m very happy I did it and I don’t regret any of it. So Christmas was incredible and now for 2014 we’ll see what’s going to happen. I have some projects in mind. I can’t talk about it, unfortunately.”