LAS VEGAS -- Saying he’s “going crazy” and “has issues,” UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre found that celebrating a grueling split-decision title defense over Johny Hendricks late Saturday was overshadowed by his interest in leaving the sport for an undetermined period of time.
In the MGM Grand octagon after the victory, St-Pierre (25-2) told the crowd, “I have a bunch of stuff in my life, I need to turn in my gloves. … I have to go away for a little bit, at least. There are some personal things.”
He added in the post-fight news conference, “I get very emotional after a fight. I have so much stress, so much stuff going on. … I don’t know what to say.
“I have stuff going on in my life I need to make a [priority] again. I can’t speak to you about this. You’re a reporter. I know it’s your job to make things public. But I have a personal life and I keep personal some of this stuff.”
Last week, St-Pierre told The Times he obsesses on opponents to the point that he loses sleep and spends waking hours dwelling on how to beat his opponent.
He was asked if that’s what he was referring to, and why he wants an extended break from such mental pressure.
UFC President Dana White ordered St-Pierre not to answer the question.
After St-Pierre left the room, White told reporters, “Little things drive him nuts. He’s obsessing over something else. It might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not.”
White said he had no advance information that such a statement by St-Pierre was coming, and called it inappropriate.
“He didn’t say he was going to retire, he said, ‘I’m going to take some time off,’ ” White said. “You owe it to the fans, that belt, this company and to Johny Hendricks to give him that opportunity to fight again. He’s got plenty of money, he can retire. But there’s no, ‘I’m going to take a cruise, a leave of absence, a hiatus.’ Whatever the ... he was saying, that’s not how it works, doesn’t work that way. It’s weird.”
White was asked how he’ll proceed if St-Pierre puts himself on the shelf. Interim title fight? Strip him of the belt? Wait for him?
“I need to talk to him, I’ll talk to him,” White said. “It’s crazy, the whole thing makes no sense. This is so not Georges St-Pierre … You don’t do stuff like that off a fight like that. Johny Hendricks won that fight, he deserves to have another shot.”
Asked how he’d advise the UFC to handle his belt, St-Pierre was again told by White not to answer, even though White minutes earlier had said, “I don’t believe in telling guys what to say, never have, never will. These guys are grown men, they can say whatever they want.”
St-Pierre made clear he won the fight, joining the news conference late after getting his face stitched.
“People can say whatever they want. It’s up to the judges,” St-Pierre said.
He initially said he did not want to elaborate on why he’s seeking a break.
“I just came out of a … war, with a guy who hits like a truck,” St-Pierre said. “My brain got bashed to the left and right inside my skull. I need to take time and see what will happen.”
He said, “like it or hate it, I gave my best, everything I had,” against Hendricks, his 10th consecutive successful title defense.
“I understand the point of view from the UFC. It’s bad for them if I leave like this,” St-Pierre said. “I can’t sleep at night now. I’m going crazy. I have issues. I need to relax and get out for awhile. I need to get out for awhile.”
If he leaves the sport with the Hendricks bout, St-Pierre said he will have “left my soul in the octagon.”
“I was hurt, at one point I couldn’t see, the vision in my right eye was blurry,” St-Pierre said. “He’s the hardest puncher I’ve seen. I was hurt, he hurt me. I did my best. I went all out, with no regret. I was in a war, and I dug into my resources to do the best I could. That’s the best I could give. I gave it all.”