For Georges St-Pierre, MMA is something of a means to an end.
While the UFC’s new middleweight champion loves the life he is able to lead as a mixed martial artist, the actual fighting and process of fight week is just short of miserable, Georges St-Pierre told Ariel Helwani on a special edition of The MMA Hour on Thursday.
“There’s no perfect job,” St-Pierre said. “The only bad thing about my job is that sometimes I need to fight. I need to go and fight. Fighting is fun, but the week of the fight, the uncertainty of fighting, the fear of being humiliated — because we do a crazy job. There’s two guys that get into a cage, there’s only one guy that’s gonna be rewarded victory. The other guy that will lose will do all that for nothing. The odds are relatively 50-50. There’s always the fear of being humiliated, losing, the fear that I have done all this crazy sacrifice for nothing. This is crazy, this is almost unbearable.”
GSP, 36, won the middleweight title by beating Michael Bisping by third-round submission (rear-naked choke) in the main event of UFC 217 last Saturday night in New York. St-Pierre is the former longtime welterweight champion and his victory over Bisping, after four years away from the sport and moving up a weight division, has led to much talk about GSP being the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
All that success has certainly paid off for St-Pierre. The Canadian superstar, who has made millions in the sport, has described himself as “wealthy” in the past. And GSP said he does love that aspect of what he does.
“People, they only see the good, the positive,” St-Pierre said. “They don’t see the big picture. They see me now, I’m happy. The good thing about fighting, the lifestyle I have. I love the lifestyle I have. It gives me the freedom, I can train. I have a martial artist life, I can live like a samurai. Every day, I try to reach perfection. I try to be the perfect fighting machine. Even though perfection is not perfect, but I will try to be as much as I can. As much as I can obtain to be, to allow me to have the freedom to do whatever I want.
“So if I work hard, it will have good results. The results is the symbol of your work and that’s what I love about it. I have no boss. I do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whoever I want.”
That comes with a caveat, though. GSP has to enter a cage and fight another man. And the pressure, he said, can sometimes be nearly insurmountable.
“The week leading up to the fight, you’re very stressed,” St-Pierre said. “It’s unbelievable. And I don’t like that part of my work — I hate it. Especially, it’s mostly the waiting part. I love fighting when I’m in the gym and I train with a guy. I love exchanging knowledge, I love training. But when I’m fighting, the pressure of it, it’s crazy. It’s unbearable. I hate it.”
GSP (26-2) has now done that whole process and the actual fight 28 times in his career. He has only lost twice, to Matt Serra in 2007 and Matt Hughes in 2004. For someone who loathes that kind of pressure, St-Pierre has made it out on the other side sublimely and has even made it look easy at times.
“But if I pass that, if I go through this, it will allow me to have the lifestyle that I love to have,” GSP said. “My freedom, my lifestyle to train like a samurai, to be able to train like a martial artist, to pursue the great things in my career. There’s no perfect job.”
Four years ago, the burden of fighting and holding the welterweight title forced St-Pierre to take a break from MMA. He beat Johny Hendricks (in a heavily disputed decision) to retain the belt in November 2013 and a few weeks later he announced he was vacating the belt and stepping away. St-Pierre never said retirement and he returned with a magical performance last weekend.
The time away seems to have refreshed GSP. While going through fight week and the actual competition is never fun, St-Pierre seems more than ready to embark on a second run in the UFC.
“There is more positive things about my job than negative,” he said. “That’s why I’m doing it.”