With UFC unwilling to grant him the fight he most covets, former two-division champion Georges St-Pierre is calling it a career.
St-Pierre, who turns 38 in May, announced his retirement at a press conference on Thursday at the Bell Centre in his native Montreal.
"I announce my retirement. There's no tears. I'm very happy to do it," St-Pierre said. "It takes a lot of discipline to retire on top. It's time to do it. I always said I want to retire on my own, not be told to retire. In combat sports, you should retire on top. That is very hard to do. I'm glad I had the discipline to do it."
It has been no secret that St-Pierre (26-2), the most decorated welterweight champion in UFC history, had his sights on a showdown against unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for a shot at becoming the only three-division champion in UFC history.
GSP, who has never fought at 155 pounds, had his hopes publicly squashed by UFC president Dana White on multiple occasions, likely due to White's displeasure with how St-Pierre handled his brief reign as middleweight champion in 2017.
St-Pierre confirmed the discussions took place, but a deal couldn't be reached.
"We tried to organize the fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. I know Khabib wanted it and I wanted it. But the UFC had other plans," St-Pierre said. "The way business works, I believe if they promote someone they want to keep him there, to have a guarantee the guy is there. It's like an investment. I don't have the same motivation I used to have."
St-Pierre returned from a four-year retirement to move up to 185 pounds and defeat Michael Bisping via dramatic submission at UFC 217 in New York's Madison Square Garden. But GSP reportedly violated the spirit of the contract he had signed by vacating the title shortly after and not fighting top contender Robert Whittaker.
Nurmagomedov (27-0) is currently serving a nine-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his actions in a post-fight brawl following his UFC 229 victory last October over Conor McGregor, which set a new MMA record for pay-per-view buys at a reported 2.4 million.
Although he is eligible to return in July, Nurmagomedov's observance of Ramadan as a practicing Muslim likely makes that improbable due to the fasting that would interrupt training camp. In addition, the fiercely loyal Nurmagomedov has toyed publicly with the idea of not returning until at least October when the one-year suspensions of teammates Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov expire for their roles in the melee.
"I wish Khabib the best of luck. I'm a big fan. I think he's the best fighter right now. I love to watch him fight. I can't wait to see what's next," St-Pierre said. "I saw the message on the internet. For where I am right now, the most exciting thing is also the scariest thing is to fight an opponent who is invincible. That's what Khabib is now and that's why we wanted to fight him. It would lift my legacy."
St-Pierre holds the record for most welterweight title defenses in UFC history with nine. He walked away from the sport on his own accord in 2013 following a split-decision win over Johny Hendricks in which he accrued heavy damage.
Although GSP's name has been linked with other fighters over the past year regarding a possible return, St-Pierre has maintained publicly that he would only come back for a fight that would elevate his legacy.
St-Pierre is one of just six fighters in UFC history to win titles in two divisions and is widely considered alongside Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Fedor Emelianenko, Demetrious Johnson and Daniel Cormier on the short list of those in contention for G.O.A.T. in the sport's history.