Georges St-Pierre called Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC 254 performance against Justin Gaethje as “masterful” and “as close as you can get to a perfect fight.” Like many spectators though, the former two-division champion says Khabib’s retirement came as a surprise after hearing all the chatter about a possible super-fight between them.
“That’s what I thought at first, that (the Khabib fight) was going to happen, because of the media, what people have informed me,” St-Pierre told ESPN. “But it did not happen, and I’m good where I am.
“Everyone in the media said he wanted to go 30-0, but that’s his choice,” he said. “He left an incredible legacy, one of the best to have ever done it — maybe the best.”
The 39-year-old was firm in saying he has no desire to now call out or “disrespect” Khabib and his family by asking him to change his mind about retirement.
“Maybe normally, I would (ask someone to stay for a fight with me), but because of the circumstances, I would never dare to do that,” St-Pierre stated. “I am not in his shoes, he is going through a tough time because his father passed away. He needs time to mourn his father.
“I respect Khabib a lot. What we do is a sport. This goes beyond sport, goes on to the human side and I just wish him and his family the best.
“I don’t want to say anything that will speculate in any way that we could make a fight. I don’t want the reporters to put that in his headline,” St-Pierre reiterated. “It’s a disrespect to the turn of events that has happened to his life. I want him to go with his family and have peace of mind. Not thinking about fighting, and just relax and enjoy your retirement.”
St-Pierre is one of the rare fighters to walk away on his own terms and as a champion, and he seems genuinely glad that Khabib is now able to do the same.
“As a human being, I am very very happy for him. What a great career. What a great way to leave with a perfect legacy,” GSP said. “Now the doors are all open for him. He finished on top. His stock is at its pinnacle. He can do whatever he wants. Sponsorship, publicity, open a school, acting, whatever he wants to do, the possibilities are endless.
“A lot of fighters in our sport have a tendency to finish too late in their career. So their stock is going down, and then they close the door for many opportunities that a lot of elite athletes could have as an after-career. Khabib has a choice now.
“I always feel sad when I see an athlete taking too many fights — a champion. Taking too many fights, and retire, having very bad performance and affect the well-being… that’s something I really don’t wish to someone. Khabib did an amazing decision.”
St-Pierre retired when he was 37-years-old, as a two-division champion that won 12-straight title fights. Khabib, 32, will also now leave the sport as a dominant champion, who didn’t take much damage en-route to a perfect 29-0 record.
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