(Georges St. Pierre, getting his lunch money stolen by Midoux and Zahabi. / Photo via LaPresse)
By Elias Cepeda
I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Georges St. Pierre and his camp are messing with us. In recent months, speculation that the UFC welterweight champion might soon retire after he fights Johny Hendricks this Saturday at UFC 167 has run rampant.
For the most part, St. Pierre himself and his head trainer Firas Zahabi have pretty much been the sources of this speculation, and since then they’ve attempted to discredit the rumor that they themselves got started. The latest “Georges should/might retire” item came from none other than St. Pierre’s long time mentor Kristof Midoux, a.k.a. the big old school fighter guy that recently appeared on the third episode of UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks.
Midoux recently did an interview with French Canadian publication La Presse where he revealed that he told St. Pierre that, should he beat Hendricks in impressive fashion, the champion should retire right there in the Octagon. (Rough translation via Google/us):
“I said, after this, it’s over! Shine that night. Finish this guy in front of everyone. Shut the mouths of your critics. If you finish this guy, if you knock him out, then you will be free, you’ll be happy to take the microphone and tell everyone you’re done — to say that you will leave room for others.
“I told George, have the courage to take the microphone and say thank you to everyone. Those who do not understand are those who have nothing to understand, those who are selfish. It is time to think about him. This is the greatest gift that he could have. He could enjoy life, spend time with his family.
“I want it to happen like that. I really wish he doesn’t make the mistake of so many fighters. I do not want him to keep competing when he’s 35.”
Asked if he thought St. Pierre would take his advice and indeed retire Saturday night after fighting Hendricks, Midoux replied simply, “yes.”
After reading that interview, we thought that perhaps GSP was indeed considering retirement. But a couple of other recent interviews with the champion have made us consider another possibility: What if St. Pierre and his camp are using the retirement talk to A) hype the fight with Hendricks, and B) to serve as a distracting red herring only to announce big plans to continue fighting, perhaps at another weight class?
In an interview with Joe Ferraro conducted alongside teammate Rory “Mini-Rush” MacDonald, St. Pierre and the young contender said a couple interesting things. First off, they unequivocally said that they would never fight one another.
Then, St. Pierre gave some reasons why. Georges said that he has some plans for the future that he cannot talk about now but soon will announce, and also said that Rory will definitely become the new welterweight champion at some point.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, St. Pierre didn’t sound like he wanted to retire but rather that he is hiding some super-fight plans up his sleeve.
“There are a lot of things I can’t tell you,” he said mysteriously.
“But I have plans. I’m ready for other things. We’ll see what happens. Moving up, moving down, fighting some other guy. I have big plans, but I can’t tell you everything. I just can’t give all of my secrets today.”
We doubt that St. Pierre is talking of retirement when he plays coy and smiles, promising “big” and “different” things. Also, what are the chances that the good ship GSP is so leaky as to have his head trainer, close friend and mentor all repeatedly/accidentally talk about his retirement? If they were doing so without the consent of the fighter, we’d imagine he’d get pretty upset about that.
So, if Firas and Midoux are all talking about retirement, but St. Pierre himself seems to be alluding to more fights, done differently, we’re guessing that this is all an elaborate ruse. Unfortunately, it’s worked.
Nothing against Johny Hendricks, but this writer is now suddenly rooting for GSP to win simply so we can see what top secret plans he’s got in mind. It would be the most interesting thing St. Pierre has done in a while, other than consistently and masterfully beat everyone up.