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Sports

December 14, 2013

David Estrada column: Georges St-Pierre decides to walk away

PORT ARTHUR —  Michael Jordan did it. Jim Brown and Barry Sanders did it. Now longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will be doing it.

  Each of these athletes walked away from their respective sports while they were at the top of their game. In an announcement this week, George St-Pierre proclaimed he will be taking an extended leave of absence from the sport of MMA and vacate his UFC title.

  St-Pierre alluded to his leave from the sport in comments made after his last title defense against Johny Hendricks in November, then later retracted them. Rumors swirled over why he would publicly hint at leaving the sport. GSP changed course again and with Friday’s announcement it became official he would be leaving for an undetermined amount of time.

  The 11-time defending UFC champion cited personal issues and the pressure or “zoo”, as he put it, of living a high-profile lifestyle as reasons for his step away.

  Unlike Jordan, Brown and Sanders, Georges St-Pierre left the door open for a return to his sport (although Jordan later did return to the NBA after his retirement announcement). “I believe one day I will come back. The problem is I do not know how long it will be.” St-Pierre stated.

  St-Pierre’s semi-retirement will leave a void in the UFC but not for long. This void is expected to be filled – in Dallas.

  UFC president Dana White announced that a new UFC welterweight champion will be crowned on March 15 at UFC 171 Dallas. Johny Hendricks, the man who brought St-Pierre to the brink of defeat last month, will fight longtime MMA great “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler for the vacated belt.

 This is the obvious matchup for the title. Many MMA fans feel Hendricks deserved the judges’ decision, not GSP, after their clash, and see Hendricks as the real champion in their eyes. Hendricks also lives and fights out of Dallas which will draw a lot of hometown fans to the showdown.

 That said, Robbie Lawler will have his work cut out for him in Big D. In addition to fighting who some view as the number one welterweight fighter in the world, he’s going to have to face him in his hometown arena of 17,000 fans.

 Texas has been friendly to the UFC and the UFC has reciprocated the feelings by holding more championship events in the state. The Dallas event planning is still in its infancy but the fight card is starting to take shape beyond the Hendricks-Lawler welterweight championship bout.

  Diego Sanchez and Hector Lombard, two fighters who thrilled fans at UFC 166 Houston, are expected to each have bouts at UFC 171 Dallas.

  More details will be reported on the Dallas event in the coming months. Who knows when there will be something to report about Georges St-Pierre. One can say that is exactly what the man needs — a step away from the limelight.

  David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com

 

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