Sports Other Sports

MMA

Inactive Georges St. Pierre manages to keep himself in spotlight

By Daniel Austin, Calgary Sun

Canadian Georges St. Pierre connects with a left during his fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in Montreal. (Postmedia Network file photo)

Canadian Georges St. Pierre connects with a left during his fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in Montreal. (Postmedia Network file photo)

MONTREAL - 

Even on a weekend when he won’t be getting anywhere near the octagon, the UFC spotlight seems to shine brightest on Georges St. Pierre.

Standing on stage next to Rory MacDonald, the man considered by many to be GSP’s successor as Canada’s biggest MMA star, it was the retired (?) St. Pierre who soaked in the adoring Montreal crowd’s loudest cheers.

The longtime welterweight inevitably answered questions about potentially fighting in the UFC again — more on that later — and shared stories about both his time in the octagon and the year and a half since he last fought.

It was when he was asked about MacDonald, though, that he really seemed inspired.

“I truly believe he is the future of the (welterweight) division, regardless of if he wins or loses (to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189) he will become the world champion one day,” St. Pierre said. “I plan to be helping him train, more as a training partner because he has a trainer, so I’m more useful as a training partner.”

St. Pierre is intending on travelling to Las Vegas for MacDonald’s July 11th title challenge, and could very well be in the British Columbian’s corner as he tries to bring a UFC belt back to Canada.

Supporting younger fighters is a role St. Pierre seems to be relishing, and MacDonald said he’s got a wealth of knowledge invaluable to up-and-comers.

When it comes to what St. Pierre is telling MacDonald as his career progresses, it’s largely as simple as ‘don’t get discouraged.’

“Becoming world champion, it’s not a straight line,” St. Pierre said. “Sometimes you expect yourself to become great but you have to wait a little bit because you have some failure.

“Just look at Robbie Lawler, his career went like a rollercoaster and now he’s on top of the world because he worked hard and was dedicated.”

As for whether he’ll ever come out of retirement, St. Pierre has long insisted that he’ll never fight MacDonald, so the result of the upcoming title fight is unlikely to have any impact on his decision about whether or not to return to fighting.

One thing that may affect that decision, though, is the UFC’s new sponsorship deal with Reebok. That deal forces fighters to wear Reebok products at all times in the octagon and during fight week, but St. Pierre has had longtime sponsorship deals with both Affliction and Under Armour and didn’t sound particularly interested in giving up those lucrative partnerships.

“It’s a good question,” St. Pierre said when asked if the sponsorship deal would have an impact on his decision. “I’ve thought about it, but it’s not up to me. It’s not my field of expertise, I’m sure if something happened my manager would maybe work it out for me, I’m not a lawyer.”

Those aren’t particularly encouraging words for anyone dreaming of one day seeing St. Pierre gracing the octagon again, especially as the Montrealer has always been shrewd with the business side of his career.

It’s why many believe it’s unlikely that he’ll ever return. A comeback would put his sterling legacy at risk, and St. Pierre is well aware his status as one of the greatest of all time is valuable.

“The worst thing for me, in a hypothetical world, the worst scenario for me would be to come back and make a fool of myself,” St. Pierre said. “That would be a terrible, terrible outcome. It would be the worst thing and I don’t want it to happen.

“In the scenario that I decide to come back, I would ensure that I have a great group around me. (Firas Zahabi) would never let me fight if he looked at me and thought ‘Oh, he doesn’t look good,’ because it would kill my reputation and everything I worked for. For sure, if I make a comeback expect to see me at the top of my game.”

daniel.austin@sunmedia.ca

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions