Georges St-Pierre (French pronunciation: [ʒɔʁʒ sɛ̃ pjɛʁ]; born May 19, 1981), often referred to as GSP and Rush, is a Canadian mixed martial artist and the former Welterweight Champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. St-Pierre has for several years been ranked as the #1 welterweight in the world according to Sherdog, and numerous other publications. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 he was named the Canadian Athlete of the Year by Rogers Sportsnet. On December 13, 2013, St-Pierre vacated his title and decided to take some time off from the sport, though he left the door open for a return.
Georges St-Pierre, a French-speaking Quebecer, was born on May 19, 1981 in Saint-Isidore, Quebec, to Roland and Pauline St-Pierre. St-Pierre had a difficult childhood, attending a school where others would steal his clothes and money. He started learning Kyokushin karate at age seven from his father and later from a Kyokushin Karate Master to defend himself against a school bully. He took up wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his karate teacher died (at this point he also trained in boxing). Before turning pro as a mixed-martial artist, St-Pierre worked as a bouncer at a Montreal night club in the South Shore called Fuzzy Brossard and as a garbageman for six months to pay for his school fees.
St-Pierre has trained with a number of groups in a large variety of gyms throughout his fighting career. Prior to his fight with B.J. Penn at UFC 58, he trained at the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in New York City. St-Pierre received his brown belt in BJJ from Renzo Gracie on July 21, 2006. In September 2008, St-Pierre earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Bruno Fernandes.
St-Pierre began training with Rashad Evans, Nathan Marquardt, Keith Jardine, Donald Cerrone and other skilled MMA fighters at Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gaidojutsu school in New Mexico. Some of Jackson’s students accompanied St-Pierre to Montreal to help prepare him for his fight at UFC 94 against B.J. Penn at the Tristar Gym, including Keith Jardine, Nathan Marquardt, Donald Cerrone and Rashad Evans. Georges’ strength and conditioning coach is Jonathan Chaimberg of Adrenaline Performance Centre in Montréal. Georges’ Head Trainer is Firas Zahabi of Zahabi MMA, out of the Tristar gym. The two have cornered all of St-Pierre’s most recent bouts and remain as his close friends. Currently, St-Pierre trains in Muay Thai under Phil Nurse at the Wat in New York City.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
St-Pierre made his UFC debut at UFC 46, where he defeated highly ranked Karo Parisyan by unanimous decision. His next fight in the UFC was against Jay Hieron at UFC 48. St-Pierre defeated Hieron via technical knockout in only 1:42 of the first round.
Following his second win in the UFC, he faced Matt Hughes at UFC 50 for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship. Despite a competitive performance against the much more experienced fighter, St-Pierre tapped out to an armbar with only 1 second remaining in the first round. The loss was the first of St-Pierre’s career and he has since admitted that he was in awe of Hughes going into the title bout.
After his loss to Matt Hughes, St-Pierre rebounded with a win over Dave Strasser at TKO 19 by a first-round kimura submission. He then returned to the UFC to face Jason Miller at UFC 52, defeating Miller by unanimous decision in a bloody battle.
St-Pierre was then matched up against top contender Frank Trigg at UFC 54. St-Pierre controlled the fight and eventually sneaked in a rear naked choke with less than a minute remaining in the first round. He then faced future lightweight champion Sean Sherk at UFC 56. Midway through the second round, St-Pierre became the second fighter to defeat Sherk and the first to finish him. During the post-fight interview, he famously went down on his knees with an impassioned plea to UFC management to give him another title shot.
At UFC 58, St-Pierre defeated former UFC welterweight champion B.J. Penn to become the No. 1 contender for the UFC welterweight title. St-Pierre won the match by split decision and was set for a rematch against then-champion Matt Hughes at UFC 63. St-Pierre was forced to withdraw from the match, however, due to a groin injury and was replaced by the man he defeated in March, B.J. Penn. The UFC announced afterward that St-Pierre would have the opportunity to fight for the title when his condition was fully healed.
The Ultimate Fighter
St-Pierre was seen as a trainer on The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback on Spike TV, which featured fighters who were previously seen in UFC events including Matt Serra, Shonie Carter, Pete Sell, Patrick Côté, and Travis Lutter. St-Pierre was seen vocally supporting fellow Canadian and training partner Patrick Côté during the season’s airing.
Winning and losing the title
At UFC 63, St-Pierre made an appearance to support fellow Canadian David “The Crow” Loiseau. At that time he was seen pushing Loiseau to “fight his fight” against Mike Swick. At the same event, after Matt Hughes had defeated B.J. Penn, St-Pierre stepped into the ring to hype up his upcoming title fight against Hughes, stating that he was glad that Hughes won his fight, but that he was “not impressed” by Hughes’ performance.
According to both commentator Joe Rogan and Hughes’ own autobiography, Hughes was unhappy with St-Pierre’s statement. Hughes said that they “had words” off-camera shortly after, at which time St-Pierre apologized, saying he had misunderstood something Hughes had said on the microphone and did not mean to offend him. St-Pierre challenged Matt Hughes again at UFC 65 for the UFC Welterweight Championship. The fight was almost stopped near the end of the first round when St-Pierre sent Hughes to the mat with a superman punch and left hook, but Hughes managed to survive the first round. In the second round, St-Pierre won the fight via technical knockout after a left kick to Hughes’ head followed by a barrage of unanswered punches and elbows. After the fight, on January 30, 2007, St-Pierre signed a new six-fight deal with the UFC.
At UFC 69, St-Pierre lost the welterweight title to The Ultimate Fighter 4 winner Matt Serra when Serra forced the referee to step in after a series of unanswered strikes at 3:25 of round one. Matt Serra was an 11–1 underdog going into the bout. St-Pierre has said that he lost the match partially due to a lack of focus because of problems in his personal life, including the death of a close cousin and his father’s serious illness, and later parted ways with his manager and most of his entourage. St-Pierre has since gone on to say that he should not have made any excuses and that Serra was simply the better fighter that night.
Road back to title contention
On August 25, 2007, at UFC 74 St-Pierre won a unanimous decision over Josh Koscheck (30–27, 29–28, 29–28). He outwrestled Koscheck, who is a four-time Division I NCAA All-American and an NCAA wrestling champion, by scoring takedowns, stopping Koscheck’s takedown attempts and maintaining top position throughout most of the fight. Many predicted that Koscheck would outmatch St-Pierre on the ground due to his credentials, but St-Pierre was confident that he was a better wrestler and striker and was more well-versed in submissions than Koscheck.
Before and after the fight, St-Pierre stated his intention to reclaim his lost title, miming the act of placing a championship belt around his waist while still in the octagon. His win over Koscheck had placed him in the No. 1 contender spot for the UFC Welterweight Championship. That fight was to be against the winner of Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. Matt Serra had to pull out of UFC 79 due to a back injury sustained during training, and instead St-Pierre faced Hughes in a rubber match for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship. Hughes was unable to mount any serious offense against St-Pierre, who again showcased his wrestling skills by not only avoiding all of Hughes’ takedown attempts, but also taking Hughes down at will. In a reversal of their first fight, St-Pierre attempted a kimura on Hughes’ right arm, then switched to a straight armbar with fifteen seconds left in the second round. Hughes fought the extension, but was forced to verbally submit at 4:55 of the second round, making St-Pierre the interim Welterweight Champion.
At UFC 83 on April 19, 2008, St-Pierre fought Matt Serra to determine the undisputed UFC welterweight champion. It was the UFC’s first event in Canada and was held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Québec. Instead of starting with strikes, St-Pierre pressed the action early with a takedown and then mixed up his attack, which never allowed Serra the chance to mount a significant offense. In the second round, St-Pierre continued his previous actions and forced Serra into the turtle position and delivered several knees to Serra’s midsection. Near the end of round two, the fight was stopped by referee Yves Lavigne with a visibly gassed Serra unable to defend himself from St-Pierre’s continuous knee blows or improve his position.
Defending the title and beyond
St-Pierre’s first title defense after regaining the belt was against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. Fitch was on a 16-fight winning streak and a victory against St-Pierre would have been Fitch’s ninth consecutive UFC win, a new UFC record. St-Pierre defeated Jon Fitch by unanimous decision with scores of 50–43, 50–44, and 50–44, scoring multiple devastating strikes and taking the former Purdue wrestling captain down seemingly at will.
The win over Fitch set up one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history. BJ Penn entered the octagon after Fitch’s loss and challenged St-Pierre to a rematch of their UFC 58 bout from 2006, which had ended in a split-decision victory for St-Pierre. The rematch took place on January 31, 2009, at UFC 94. The first round of the fight was nearly even, with both men exchanging punches and Penn exercising elusive head movement, fast hands, good take-down defense – thwarting all of St-Pierre’s take-down attempts. In the ensuing three rounds, however, Penn put forth a lackluster performance. St-Pierre dominated the rest of the bout, scoring the first take-down of the night midway through the second round and from that point on, taking Penn down at will, repeatedly passing his guard, and persistently punishing the Hawaiian with a brutal ground-and-pound attack.
The fight ended after the fourth round when Penn’s cornerman, Jason Parillo, requested that the referee stop the fight. Penn failed to attend the post-fight press conference due to hospitalization for injuries. Penn later admitted that he could not recall anything that happened during the 3rd and 4th rounds because “I was probably borderline knocked out or something.”. During the fight, Penn complained that St-Pierre was too slippery to hold, which led to suspicion about petroleum jelly being illegally applied to St-Pierre’s back. The matter was formally investigated by the UFC and Nevada State Athletic Commission upon the request of the Penn camp. Dana White said it was unfortunate GSP’s dominant win was overshadowed by the cornerman controversy. “Do I think that he got greased? Yeah, I do,” White told The Canadian Press prior to the UFC 95 weigh-in Friday at the Dominion Theatre. “Absolutely, 100 per cent, I think that that guy was rubbing grease on him. “Do I think Georges was trying to cheat? Absolutely not at all, but that cornerman was rubbing grease on him; you cannot do that.”
Prior to UFC 100, Beau Dure of USA Today stated that St-Pierre was possibly “the best in the world.” At the event, St-Pierre defeated No. 1 contender Thiago Alves. Alves showed promise on his feet standing up in the fight, but St-Pierre’s wrestling offensive, endurance and ground control proved too much for the challenger and put St-Pierre en route to a unanimous decision victory, despite suffering a pulled groin muscle in the third round. While St-Pierre said in his post fight interview that the injury was sustained in the third round, he later said on his blog that the injury in fact occurred in the fourth round. On July 18, 2009, it was revealed that St-Pierre’s groin injury would not require surgery.
St-Pierre successfully defended his welterweight title against Dan Hardy on March 27, 2010 at UFC 111 which took place in Newark, NJ. St-Pierre dominated the fight with his wrestling. He caught Hardy in the first round with an armbar, but Hardy refused to tap and eventually fought out of the hold. In the fourth round St-Pierre caught Hardy in a kimura while in the reverse-mount position, but St-Pierre was again unable to finish Hardy before he was able to escape. St-Pierre went on to win the fight by unanimous decision (50–43, 50–44 and 50–45). After the fight, he stated that he was glad to win but was not impressed by his performance, stating that he wanted to finish the fight which fans agreed. St-Pierre received harsh criticism for stalling the fight against Hardy and not being able to finish him.
St-Pierre’s next fight was a rematch against Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 where he won by unanimous decision. St-Pierre once again dominated the fight, this time around by use of superior striking and accurate boxing. He landed a total of 55 jabs to Koscheck’s head with Joe Rogan stating that it was “the most jabs I’ve ever seen in an MMA fight.” During the first round, Koscheck’s right eye became very swollen from one of St-Pierre’s jabs and by the end of the fight, due to a broken orbital bone, his right eye was completely swollen shut. St-Pierre stated at the post-fight conference that his plan included catching Koscheck off-guard by striking with him rather than wrestling. Despite the eye, St-Pierre was unable to put Koscheck away.
UFC president Dana White stated that Jake Shields would be St-Pierre’s next opponent and confirmed that the two would meet in the main event of UFC 129 on April 30, 2011, in Toronto. White suggested that if St-Pierre defeated Shields, it could mark a move to middleweight and a superfight against then UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. St-Pierre defeated Shields via unanimous decision. When asked about fighting Silva during the post-fight interview, St-Pierre stated that he had no desire to pursue it.
St-Pierre received a 60-day medical suspension following his UFC 129 fight with Shields due to damage to his left eye. Two days after the fight however, Firas Zahabi, St-Pierre’s trainer, said that doctors had declared that his eye hadn’t suffered any serious damage and that he would be able to resume training after 10 days.
At the UFC 129 post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White stated that St-Pierre could next fight Strikeforce Welterweight champion Nick Diaz. “I’ve got to go talk him about boxing first, and then we’ll see what happens there. It’s an interesting fight,” White said. “I was there live for that last fight and I was blown away by Nick Diaz’s last fight. He looked incredible.”
Dana White confirmed via Twitter that St. Pierre’s next opponent would be Nick Diaz at UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, at the UFC 137 press conference, White announced that Carlos Condit would no longer face B.J. Penn and instead would replace Nick Diaz, who had failed to show up for any event related press appearances. Condit was to face St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Title at UFC 137. On October 18, 2011 it was announced that St. Pierre had pulled out of the fight due to a knee injury. After conferring with management and UFC officials, Condit elected not to compete against a replacement fighter atUFC 137, but face St-Pierre in early 2012. In a strange turn of events, Nick Diaz fought and defeated B.J. Penn at UFC 137 and UFC officials decided to have St-Pierre return and fight Diaz at UFC 143. According to White, St. Pierre said “He’s [Nick Diaz] the most disrespectful human being I’ve ever met and I’m going to put the worst beating you’ve ever seen on him in the UFC.”
However, on December 7, 2011, it was revealed St-Pierre had sustained an ACL injury to his right knee and would require him to be out for up to ten months, forcing him out of the bout with Diaz. At UFC 143, in a fight for the UFC Interim Welterweight Championship, Diaz lost to Condit.
St-Pierre was set to return and fight Condit for the undisputed championship on November 17, 2012 at UFC 154. On August 28, 2012, St-Pierre posted to his official Facebook page that he had the green light from his medical team to compete once again. He ended his post by announcing that his return would be in UFC 154, in which he was to fight Carlos Condit.
St-Pierre once again successfully defended his welterweight title on November 17, 2012 at UFC 154 against Condit, winning a unanimous decision. Despite being badly hurt in the third round by a headkick, St-Pierre was able take and hold down Condit repeatedly during the bout, while defending multiple submission attempts and deliver multiple strikes from Condit’s active guard. Both participants earned Fight of the Night honors for their performance.
Georges St-Pierre defended his title for the 8th time and defeated Nick Diaz at UFC 158 on March 16, 2013 by unanimous decision. In preparation for the bout, GSP retained well-known boxer Lucian Bute as a sparring partner.
St-Pierre faced Johny Hendricks on November 16, 2013 in the main event at UFC 167. He won the fight by controversial split decision, a win which UFC president Dana White stated was unwarranted immediately after the fight. Each of the sixteen MMA journalists’ scorecards collected on MMADecisions.com showed a win for Hendricks. In his postfight interview, St-Pierre said he would step away from fighting ‘for a little bit’.
Vacating the title and time off from MMA
On December 13, 2013, St-Pierre officially announced that he vacated his title and needed to take some time off from MMA. He left the door open for a possible return to MMA in the future.
Championships and achievements
The UFC championship belt which St-Pierre defended nine times
Mixed martial arts
St-Pierre has acted in two films, both written by martial artist Hector Echavarria. He plays Shaman in Death Warrior, and Georges in Never Surrender. St-Pierre has been cast as Batroc the Leaper in the 2014 Marvel Superhero film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.