“One day, I may come back, but right now, I need a break,” he said.
St-Pierre cited undisclosed personal issues, as well as the pressures of fighting at a championship level – in fact, fighting at a pound-for-pound best level – for several years, as the primary reasons for stepping away.
“I need to have a normal life for a little bit,” he added, the weight already lifting in his voice as the words tumbled out of his mouth.
Many people immediately began to sympathize, others to criticize.
He, unlike anyone else, is suited to understand St-Pierre’s emotions and the pressures of being a champion for such a long time, to be considered amongst the elite of the elite for years.
“I think that everyone knows their right timing and their moment they’re living and we’ve got to respect Georges St-Pierre for everything that he’s done in this sport,” Silva told MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday. “If he feels that this is the correct time, we’ve got to respect him.”
Silva, following his loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 162 over the summer, sounded as if he might follow the path that St-Pierre is now on. He sounded like a man that finally had the weight removed from his shoulders, the weight that comes from years of lugging a gold strap over your shoulder.
“Chris is the champion now. I finish my work,” Silva commented in the Octagon after Weidman knocked him out. “I no more fight for the belt. I fight for the belt for a long time. I’m tired.”
With the belt removed, it didn’t take long for Silva to stoke his competitive fires and want to get back in the Octagon. She is a seductive mistress.
Within weeks of the loss, he decided that he would rematch Weidman, and again pursue championship gold, welcoming the pressure back into his life.
Whether or not that same thing happens to St-Pierre remains to be seen. Will he have a realization that being a champion is as necessary to him as the air he breathes? Or will he discover life outside of the Octagon holds more for him than a gold belt can deliver?
Regardless of St-Pierre’s eventual direction, Silva says it is each man’s journey to travel, and that St-Pierre deserves the respect to follow the road that best suits him, not anyone else.
“Everyone knows their time and their moment that they’ve got to retire to take a step away, so we’ve got to respect him.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)