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Georges St-Pierre of Canada prepares to enter the Octagon prior to facing Michael Bisping of England in their UFC middleweight championship bout during the UFC 217 event inside Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Georges St-Pierre To Be Inducted Into Canada's Sports Hall Of Fame

"Rush" Will Become First Mixed Martial Artist To Receive The Order Of Sport

The names are legendary. Gretzky, Howe, Orr, Lewis, Richard, Nash.

On October 19 in Gatineau, Quebec, these sporting icons will be joined by one of their own in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, as it was announced Thursday that former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre will be the recipient of the highest honor an athlete can receive in Canada – the Order of Sport.

This marks not only the first time a UFC athlete has been recognized in such a manner, but the first time a mixed martial artist has received the Order of Sport.

Georges St-Pierre vs Jake Shields | UFC 30th Anniversary
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Georges St-Pierre vs Jake Shields | UFC 30th Anniversary
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And there is no athlete more deserving than the pride of Montreal, a fighter who put MMA on the mainstream map in Canada, and then went on to become one of the greatest to ever wear the four-ounce gloves, earning him a place in the UFC Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

But St-Pierre’s impact on his sport when far beyond a win-loss record and the numbers attached to his historic career. In a sport plagued by misconceptions and stereotypes, GSP was the perfect ambassador, a gentleman in and out of competition who truly epitomized the martial arts lifestyle he embraced from the first time he stepped into the Kyokushin Karate gym of Jean Couture as a child.

Order UFC 293: Adesanya vs Strickland

“We’re in a very rough sport,” St-Pierre told me in 2005. “And a lot of people, especially in my country, don’t consider me to be a real athlete. They look at us as street fighters or brawlers. So it’s important for us to give a good image of the sport and to be gentlemen outside of the Octagon. This way we show the teenagers a good image and we’re role models for these people. It’s important to walk the straight line.”

He did, not because he wanted to make an impression, but because that was in his DNA. But make no mistake about it, though, when it was time to fight, no one could match him when he was on top of his game, and that was because he didn’t train in one discipline, but in all of them, inspired by fellow UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie.

Georges St-Pierre comemora após a vitória sobre Michael Bisping no UFC 217 em novembro de 2017 (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Georges St-Pierre of Canada celebrates after defeating Michael Bisping of England in their UFC middleweight championship bout during the UFC 217 event inside Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“When I saw Royce Gracie in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, it was like the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts,” he said in 2005. “You can be a karate champion, judo champion, or jiu-jitsu champion, but when you’re the Ultimate Fighting Champion, you’re the champion of everything all mixed together. And when I saw Royce Gracie beat everybody and he was one of the smallest guys in the entire competition, I decided that that was what I wanted to do for a living.”

St-Pierre turned pro in 2002, and after just five fights on the local scene in Quebec, he got the call to fight in the UFC against Karo Parisyan in January of 2004. Two fights later, he was in the Octagon with longtime welterweight champion Matt Hughes. GSP would lose that night to the legend from Hillsboro, Illinois, but he avenged that loss (twice), and over the final 19 fights of his career, he would go 18-1, avenging that other loss to Matt Serra, as well.

It was a remarkable run, highlighted by wins over Hughes, Parisian, Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, Serra, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks and Michael Bisping.

That’s five UFC Hall of Famers. And after regaining his welterweight title in his rematch with Serra in the first UFC event held in Canada in 2008, GSP reigned for over five years in one of the sport’s toughest weight classes.

Georges St-Pierre Hall of Fame Induction | UFC Hall of Fame
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Georges St-Pierre Hall of Fame Induction | UFC Hall of Fame
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How do you top that? By returning from a nearly four-year hiatus in 2017, moving up a weight class, and taking Bisping’s middleweight title.

It was a remarkable career. One that was recognized in his sport, and that is now being recognized by a nation. But if you call Georges St-Pierre the G.O.A.T., expect a (friendly) fight.

“There's a lot of guys for different reasons who could be considered a G.O.A.T., and there are pros and cons, but I truly believe it does not exist, because if you talk about who's the best, I think the best has not even been born yet,” he told me in 2021. “Royce Gracie, as magnificent as he was, he was the number one guy and he achieved things that still today have not been achieved - if you would put him in the cage against the competition today and ask how he would do, he would not do well because the sport has changed. The technology has become better. I remember when I wanted to learn jiu-jitsu, I needed to drive to New York and be in the class to learn an armbar or a choke. Now you can learn it in two minutes watching on the internet by a guy who lives in a different country from you. So the technology makes the performance better. The best example of that is, look at sports where you can measure things. For example, sprinting. Usain Bolt is the fastest man that ever lived that we know of because we have the evidence to prove it. It’s the same thing in all the Olympic sports you can measure. However, you cannot measure fighting because it's one guy against another guy, and there's no instrument of measure that you can have to compare.

Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129

“The further we go into the future, the better the guys will be,” St-Pierre continues. “There will always be new up and comers that are better that will beat the records of the previous ones. But I think we should never forget who was the first one to pave the way. There were no weight classes, they were fighting three times a night and there were headbutts and crazy things that you could do back then. That's why, for me, Royce Gracie is the number one for me. He's my favorite fighter, and the G.O.A.T. for me is Royce Gracie.”

He makes a strong case, but for many of us, there is only one, and his name is Georges St-Pierre.

For more information on the gala live stream, please visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/667730278237?aff=oddtdtcreator

UFC 293: Adesanya vs Strickland took place live from Qudos Arena in Sydney, Australia on September 9, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!