Georges St-Pierre believes the UFC doesn’t like to see champions leave on their own terms.
Khabib Nurmagomedov retired following his win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 back in October. But despite that being nearly five months ago, UFC president Dana White is yet to strip him of the lightweight title.
In addition, he has continually tried to persuade Nurmagomedov out of retirement with repeated only to no avail thus far. Why is the UFC reluctant to let Nurmagomedov go?
St-Pierre has a theory.
“From a business standpoint, for sure the UFC does not like one of their athletes to leave on their own terms, especially when they are champions,” St-Pierre said in an interview with ESPN (via MMA Fighting). “They like to keep the ball rolling in the organization and that’s one of the things they were angry at me [about], I’ve done this two times. But I think they attach too much importance into that. If you look at boxing, the way they promote the sport, it would be for example, ‘Mayweather vs. Canelo,’ and then after you know what they’re fighting for.
“But in UFC, the way they promote it is ‘UFC 259,’ that’s the UFC, they promote the UFC, then you have the two guys. So it’s just a different way they promote the sport. I think the promotion should be more centered on the athlete than the promotion because there’s all kinds of titles. The title is just a meaning. Even if you’re champion, doesn’t mean that people think that you are the best in the world if you are champion. You can be champion, but you haven’t fought the best guy. People are not stupid. People know that.”
St-Pierre has certainly butted heads with White in the past.
But the French-Canadian stuck to his terms and was able to retire on top. And he praised Nurmagomedov for doing the same — despite the UFC likely wanting someone to beat him before he retires.
“For that reason I believe they want to keep Khabib in because they feel like Khabib is undefeated,” St-Pierre added. “He has probably the most dominant career ever. I don’t even know if he lost a round—He might have lost a round but he dominate all his opponents.
“They don’t want him to leave on his terms, they want a guy to beat him, then after they gonna be like, ‘Okay, now you can leave.’ But Khabib is smart, I think he’s very smart, he left on top, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Do you agree with St-Pierre?