“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” — is probably one of the most valuable mantras you’d learn from the MMA industry. In your quest to find the best MMA gym for you, you might have heard of it from a coach or two in one of their pep talks whether in person or online. Words of wisdom mostly only ever come from wise people who knows what’s up. In this case, it’s Georges St-Pierre, a world MMA Champion and one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
Georges St-Pierre, or better known as GSP, is one of the most memorable fighters in the history of MMA. He caught the world’s attention for his incredible performances inside the cage. And he cemented his fans’ admiration for him through his respect towards his opponent and passion for the sport.
GSP’s just a genuinely nice guy. We could make some joke about how it’s just the Canadian in him, but it’s not that. The attitude, the sportsmanship, and the humility—all that comes from his martial arts mindset. Striving for perfection even knowing that he’ll never get there. Perhaps that’s why the world fell in love with him in the first place.
So now, let’s dive into the history of GSP. How he made a name for himself through talent, hard work, and finding the right teams and the best MMA gyms to train him into the best version of himself.
Who’s Georges St-Pierre?
From humble beginnings
Georges was raised in the small town of St-Isidore, Quebec. At the age of 7, his father introduced him to Kyokushin karate. His years’ worth of skills in martial arts didn’t discourage older kids from bullying him, though. All the bullying Georges suffered through went on even when he achieved a second dan black belt at the age of 12.
Georges St-Pierre loved ice hockey and Karate, but the family wasn’t in a position to afford both. When asked, he chose to stay in Karate, where he was in control of his own destiny. He didn’t have to depend on his team to be successful.
After the death of his Karate teacher, he branched out into other martial arts. He stopped training Karate and focused on Muay Thai. He later discovered MMA and decided to invest in his ground game, and soon, he found himself training in wrestling as well as boxing.
Life had been hard for GSP. Money was tight, and he had to work to put himself through school. He worked as a garbage man and a bouncer. All the while, he never slacked off in his training.
All that hard work and dedication would later prove to be fruitful, far beyond his wildest imagination.
A new star on the rise
In 2006, GSP, then known as “Rush,” won his UFC Welterweight championship. Although he lost the championship belt the year after to Matt Hughes, Georges St-Pierre was quick to redeem himself and reclaim the title. Since then, in 2008, he hadn’t lost a single title defence until 2013, when he finally chose to retire. GSP holds the UFC record for the most wins in title bouts.
A well rounded rookie
Besides his training and skills in karate, GSP adopted other fighting disciplines, including boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
At UFC 48, he defeated Jay Hieron via technical knockout, only 1 minute and 42 seconds into the first round. He rebounded after his loss to Matt Hughes by beating Dave Strasser by a kimura submission. Within the last minute of the first round, GSP sneaked in a rear-naked choke when he was matched up with top contender Frank Trigg at UFC 54. GSP also proved his superiority in wrestling by defeating big names in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
GSP has had an incredible run. But when you stop and take a look, he wasn’t particularly aggressive. Nor was he particularly strong. What he was, though, is extremely skilled.
GSP has a broad set of skills he utilizes, and he is extremely tactical and precise in his execution. More than just knowing several martial arts, he understands them on a deeper level and knows how to bring them together.
More than just playing the game, he knows the rules and uses them to his advantage. And that, perhaps, is what made him truly formidable in the cage.
Who made it possible for Georges St-Pierre?
Throughout his fighting career, GSP trained with a lot of different gyms. He trained at the Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy and received his brown belt in BJJ from Gracie in 2006. Two years later, Bruno Fernandez awarded Georges his BJJ black belt.
Georges St-Pierre also trained with a number of mixed martial arts fighters at Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gaidojutsu school in New Mexico. Some of GSP’ pals from the school even went with and helped him prepare for his fight at UFC 94 against B.J. Penn. From 2006 to 2009, Phil Nurse trained Georges in Muay Thai at the Wat in New York City.
Two people have cornered GSP’s most recent bouts. They’re none other than his strength & conditioning coach and his head trainer. His coach, Jonathan Chaimberg, was from Adrenaline Performance Centre in Montréal, while the head trainer, Firas Zahabi, runs the Zahabi MMA team at Tristar gym.
Stepping out from the ring
Georges St-Pierre retired in 2013. He was at the prime of his career, and the industry was shocked when he walked away from it all.
It would later come to light that he left because of the immense pressure in the UFC. There was the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, and he didn’t want to get involved in that. And so he left.
Thankfully, GSP’s retirement had been lengthy, but impermanent.
Bloody and beat but unbeaten, Georges’ St-Pierre marked his return with another win. In 2017, he became the fourth fighter in MMA history to be a multi-division champion (talk about a comeback!). He defeated Michael Bisping via submission in the third round and cementing GSP’s Middleweight Championship.
His glory days in the ring were short-lived, though. Just a month after his big win, GSP was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which forced him into retirement for good.
Life beyond MMA
Fortunately for GSP and his fans, his determination to make it big and keep growing didn’t end with his retirement. He soon shifted his career to the big screens and became an actor.
You won’t have to sift through layers upon layers of independent or B-rated films, either. You’ll easily find him within the MCU — playing the role of Georges Batroc the Leaper in the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier! That was his prime breakout role. He reprised the same role in the television miniseries The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Drawing inspiration from his troubles as a bullied kid, he also started the Georges St-Pierre Foundation. With a mission to help the youth, the foundation fights against bullying by promoting participation in sports.
Georges St-Pierre broke and exceeded expectations. From the beginning, he only ever did it all for himself. With his growth-oriented mindset, nothing is ever a matter of spite. Not even against the bullies who looked down on him, nor those who doubted his potential.View this post on Instagram
His life’s journey is probably the best example of the difference between a fighter and a martial artist. His career has been his lifestyle from day one — which is why his opponents found it nearly impossible to hit him where it hurts. To quote Georges himself, one more time: “I’ve trained myself to fight an army, so one guy will not defeat me.”