They always come back. It’s in their blood.
Whether it’s that they crave the spotlight or possess a primal need to wage war against their fellow man, like a bug to a bright light, fighters always find a way to return to combat.
That’s why Georges St-Pierre will come back, someday, somehow. He may have lost his smile, but rest assured, the man who is possibly the greatest fighter in UFC history, won’t want to end his illustrious career like this.
He’s not the first, nor the last, to walk away after losing his love for the sport.
As ironic as it sounds, great fighters need to keep fighting until somebody beats them. They need to know and feel that they are no longer competitive. That journey is different for every fighter, but a great fighter usually fights until some sub-standard fighter, who couldn’t touch him in his prime, knocks him out.
Let’s look at some of the people on that list:
Mike Tyson was KO’d by Kevin McBride in his final fight. Sugar Ray Leonard retired for three years, came back to beat Marvelous Marvin Hagler then ended up getting knocked out in five rounds against Hector “Macho” Camacho in his final fight.
Oscar De La Hoya was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in his final fight. George Foreman famously took 10 years off, returned to eventually win the heavyweight championship, then lost a majority decision to Shannon Briggs in his final fight. The great Muhammad Ali also lost his last fight by TKO to Trevor Berbick.
In MMA, Randy Couture took one fight too many, getting KO’d by Lyoto Machida in his final fight. Frank Shamrock was smashed by Nick Diaz before he retired. Chuck Liddell was knocked out by Rich Franklin.
With the exception of the great Lennox Lewis, most fighters go until they can’t go anymore.
In GSP’s case, he’s only 32 years old. He’s the sport’s most popular fighter. He’s made a lot of money, but stands to make much more. Despite his long run at the top, he still has much to prove. His final victory over Johny Hendricks was controversial. That’s not the final impression he wants to leave the fans.
A champion like GSP will want to fight until he can’t fight anymore, until someone comes along and convinces him he’s not the best anymore. Even though he’s taking a break, he’s not yet arrived at that place. He will find his smile again and one day return to the cage.