UFC legend Georges St-Pierre will announce his retirement Thursday morning at Montreal’s Bell Centre, officials connected to the event said Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Canadian has been training occasionally during the last month at trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, aiming for a showdown with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but that effort failed to materialize.
“Let’s do it in November,” Nurmagomedov pleaded to St-Pierre in a Wednesday post on Instagram and Twitter. “After this fight, you can retire. I grow up on your fights and have nothing but respect for you, and I believe [I] showed that to you, [Georges], when you were in Moscow.”
St-Pierre, who has long tussled with the UFC over pay, returned from a four-year absence in November 2017 to capture the middleweight belt by submitting England’s Michael Bisping with a third-round rear naked chokehold.
Instead of maintaining a promise to defend the belt, St-Pierre cited an injury and vacated the belt now worn by Robert Whittaker.
St-Pierre elevated to welterweight champion at UFC 65 in Sacramento, representing a shift toward a universal skill set that defused the rugged tough-man style of then-champion Matt Hughes.
St-Pierre’s talent and creativity coincided with the UFC’s ability to tap into a more mainstream audience, and after a shocking upset at the hands of Matt Serra in 2007, he recaptured the belt the next year and successfully defended it nine times to become the organization’s most powerful pay-per-view draw through 2013.
Yet, after being bloodied that year against challenger Johny Hendricks in a tightly contested fight, St-Pierre became a critic of the UFC’s absence of an Olympic-style drug-testing plan and retired.
The UFC later aligned with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to screen athletes, resulting in suspensions to the likes of long-reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva and current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
St-Pierre later become an advocate for the unionization of UFC fighters, an effort that so far has not been successful.