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Georges St-Pierre opens up on shocking retirement back in 2013

George St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks

Georges St-Pierre shocked the world back in 2013 when he announced he was retiring from MMA. He beat Johny Hendricks by split decision and quickly announced that he was stepping away from the sport.

It shocked everyone that a champion would walk away at the height of his powers and simply call it a career. No one knew why St-Pierre had done it.

All anyone had were simply rumors. Was it because of steroids in MMA? Issues with his family? Problems with the UFC? It was very unclear for many years.

Now Georges St-Pierre has pulled back the curtain and revealed his reason for retiring the way he did. He spoke with Burt Watson on his podcast Legend 2 Legend with Burt Watson.

“I had a lot of issues with the UFC because of performance-enhancing drugs,” St-Pierre told Burt Watson (transcription via Farah Hannoun). “We were talking behind closed doors, and I know they know that a lot of their athletes were using performance-enhancing drugs. But I’m not stupid. I know how business works. They didn’t want to test them because they know a lot of their champions would fall. I think I carried too much pressure for too long. I was champion for a long time, and it’s hard to become champion, but it’s even harder to stay champion because you have a lot of pressure on yourself.”

Although steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in the UFC were a big factor for Georges St-Pierre stepping away, it wasn’t everything. The mental side of the game took a toll on him and he found himself slipping into depression.

“I think I just needed vacation, and I was in some kind of depression at the time,” Georges St-Pierre said. “I was ashamed to admit it because I had a dream life. I have a lot of money, I’m healthy, and I was ashamed to admit that I was going towards depression because I didn’t know how people would think about me. They would be like, ‘Oh, what does he have to complain for? He’s champion of the world, he’s rich, what the hell is he complaining for?’ So I was ashamed, but I was going through mental depression and on top of that I was fighting in the UFC against performance-enhancing drugs, and I had a lot of personal issues. I just needed a break.”

Looking back on it, St-Pierre knows when he should have originally taken a break and stepped away from the sport. It was well before the fight with Hendricks.

“I think I should have retired after the Nick Diaz fight (in March 2013),” St-Pierre said. “I should have taken a break. If I would have done that, perhaps I would have come back earlier in my career, but I did not because I felt the need to always fight the next guy because there was always a next guy, and that’s how I realized as soon as you finish a fight, there’s a next one and a next one, because the sport of mixed martial arts is promoted about what’s next. It’s not promoted about what happened in the past. What’s next, what’s next, sell, sell, sell. We need to sell the next one, build up who’s the next big thing that can beat the champion.”

George St-Pierre’s fight Hendricks was obviously a very tough one. ‘Big Rigg’ pushed St-Pierre and gave the champion everything he could handle.

Many had Hendricks winning the fight and most agreed St-Pierre didn’t look like himself. The fight was a tough one but so was his training camp.

“On top of the mental and emotional struggle, I had a shitty training camp,” St-Pierre said. “I was tired like mentally burned out. So I was training for the fight and trying to make it in a way that – because in the interview I was telling Johny Hendricks, ‘OK, let’s do drug testing before the fight,’ and he agreed in the beginning but (later) said no. He didn’t want to do it, and I learned after that the UFC told him not to do it because they didn’t want to start a trend that people start doing it.

“Because I know there are a lot of good fighters that are honest and don’t cheat, and it would have made a lot of guys that are honest who think that their opponent might be cheating, to do the same trend and they didn’t want that to start. So they told Johny Hendricks to not do it because I wanted to do it with VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) at the time. So after the fight with Johny Hendricks, right after the press conference, I went in a room with Lorenzo (Fertitta) and Dana (White), and I told them what I think of this whole thing. … I thought it was corrupted, and I left.”