DANA WHITE GSP CONFERENCE CALL STORY
By Denis Gorman
Friday December 13, 2013
Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White was adamant UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre was not retiring.
It only sounded as if one of the greatest mixed martial artists was calling it a career.
During a nearly hour-long conference call Friday afternoon, St. Pierre announced he will going to take an indefinite leave from the UFC and will vacate the welterweight title. Johny Hendricks will meet Robbie Lawler for the vacant title on March 15 at UFC 171 in Dallas’ American Airlines Center, White said.
The news was first reported by RDS, the French-language 24-hour sports news network and website.
“I’ve been fighting for a very long time [at] a high level. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism and I’ve decided I need to take time off,” St. Pierre said. “One day, when I feel like it, I might come back. But right now I need a break.
“It’s like every fight I’m carrying weight on my [shoulders]. “Every fight you add weight on your [shoulders]. Every fight you add weight, you add weight, you add weight and I have a hard time carrying it. So for me, in order to keep my mental equilibrium—physically I’m 100 percent but mentally I feel like I just cannot go through another training camp right now and I don’t know when I will be able to.”
St. Pierre walks away from the UFC with a 25-2-0 record and has successfully defended the title in nine straight fights dating back to Jon Fitch at UFC 87 on Aug. 9, 2008.
“His legacy is [that] he’s the greatest welterweight ever,” White said. “Georges St. Pierre will fight again. Yes, I do believe Georges St. Pierre will fight again.”
According to White, St. Pierre’s contract will be “frozen” whether the fighter stays away “six months or six years.”
St. Pierre said the decision to walk away was made prior to his controversial title defense against Hendricks at UFC 167, where he gave a rambling interview to UFC color analyst Joe Rogan inside the octagon after the decision was announced. In the post-fight press conference, White railed about St. Pierre’s decision. When asked about what had changed in the 27 days since the fight, White somewhat offered a mea culpa.
“I was emotional that night,” White said. “There were a lot of things…there was some battling going on with me and Nevada. There was more to it than I blew up and went crazy because of Georges St. Pierre and what he said.”
Now the onus is on the UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to figure out how to navigate a card-heavy 2014 without St. Pierre, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez [shoulder surgery], and lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
To hear White to say it, business will continue as usual
“Life goes on,” White said unequivocally, when asked if he was concerned UFC would experience a downfall in its pay-per-view business without St. Pierre. “It doesn’t scare me at all. This is what we do for a living. This is what we do. If that scares me, we’re in big trouble.”
You can follow Denis Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman (http://twitter.com/#!/denisgorman)
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