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Georges St-Pierre Weighs in on the Kamaru Usman GOAT Debate

'Rush' admits Usman may indeed be the best welterweight in UFC history—and explains why he's OK with the recognition.

UFC Hall of Famer and former two-division UFC champion Georges St-Pierre is unquestionably among the greatest fighters of all time, but in recent years, current titleholder Kamaru Usman has certainly inserted himself into that discussion, as well.

With an unblemished mark of 15-0 inside the promotion's octagon, not to mention with five consecutive title defenses under his belt, Usman is certainly gaining the respect of his peers, and St-Pierre said it's reasonable to consider "The Nigerian Nightmare" as the best welterweight in UFC history, even if he believes some caution should be used in that assessment.

"It's a different time," St-Pierre told MMA Underground. "We competed against different people in a different time. I think Kamaru Usman, he could be the greatest of all time right now. However, I think you need to wait until the end of the career of someone before saying he's the greatest of all time because sometimes your stock can go up or it can go down, you know? But he's definitely up there, you know what I mean?

"He's definitely among the best of all time, 100 percent. He's on a tear. I really enjoy watching him fight."

St-Pierre defended the UFC's welterweight title an astounding nine times between 2008 and 2013, a run that only ended with the Canadian vacating the title in favor of retirement. He would return to compete once more four years later, claiming a second belt by choking out Michael Bisping to claim the UFC's middleweight title, which he promptly vacated, as well, in retiring a second time.

St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) closed out his career on a 13-fight winning streak that included a host of notable opponents such as Thiago Alves, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, Dan Hardy, Johny Hendricks, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Matt Serra and Jake Shields, among others.

Meanwhile, Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) is currently riding an incredible 19-fight winning streak that dates back to his lone professional loss in 2013, and he's beaten the likes of Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, Rafael dos Anjos, Demian Maia, Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley and more.

Usman's current run has many observers stating he might, indeed, be the best 170-pounder in UFC history, and St-Pierre—notoriously driven during his fighting days—says that's just fine with him.

"Believe it or not, it does not bother me at all," St-Pierre said. "I retired, and you know why I retired? Because I realized in my life when I was young, I was very competitive. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be known as the best. My legacy was very important, and for me, that's pretty much the thing that I cared the most (about) at the time. It was my legacy. I did it to become the best.

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"I was not only competing against my opponent, I was competing against the other guys in the sport because I wanted to be the best. I really cared about what people think about me. Now, the reason why I retired is because I only care much about what the people I love think about me. You know what I mean? Now, my head is that I don't care about the people that don't know me. I don't care. You know, it's not going to affect my life, and I realize that this is what is more important."

UFC Hall of Famer and former two-division UFC champion Georges St-Pierre poses for a photo.

St-Pierre says he's at peace with his body of work during a Hall of Fame run in the UFC.

Now 41, St-Pierre said that mindset allows him to enjoy his life to a much greater degree than he did during his time as an active competitor. After all, the sacrifice that it takes for any athlete to be successful at the highest levels of mixed martial arts is all-encompassing. St-Pierre believes that's unfortunately a necessary reality in MMA, and that detaching yourself from the type of drive isn't possible as you're making your way up the ladder.

"You don't want to realize it too early in your life when you're competing because you're going to lose the edge, so it's good that you're hungry and you want to be the best," St-Pierre said. "But at one point, something will happen. A switch will happen in your mind, and it will make you be more happy in life because you'll be able to relax because as the competitive nature of this sport, mixed martial arts, and as competitive as you need to be to become one of the best, that's how you need to be, but you can't live like this through all your life. At one point, time catches up to you and you need to let it go. For me, that was very hard for me to let it go, but once I passed that point, that mental state of letting it go, I felt good with myself, and I don't mind at all. It does not bother me, not one bit."

Georges St-Pierre speaks during a press conference to promote his middleweight title bout against Michael Bisping (not pictured) prior to weigh ins for UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena.

St-Pierre has zero plans to return to the octagon at 41 year old. 

St-Pierre still trains in martial arts at a high level and has not ruled out the possibility of future grappling competitions, though he's made it clear his days of fighting are absolutely done. He's now focused on his businesses outside of the cage, including the recent launch of an exclusive clothing collection with direct-to-consumer platform BlueChip.

In the meantime, debate away, St-Pierre says. His legacy is secure, as his spot in the UFC Hall of Fame certainly attests. Has Usman surpassed that benchmark? Perhaps, but St-Pierre said that's simply to be expected as the sport develops, and he even quotes Sir Isaac Newton—mistakenly lending credit to fellow scientist Albert Einstein— to explain why that sort of evolution is simply natural.

"All the guys that are competing, I think they deserve the credit, and they're in the spotlight right now," St-Pierre said. "I think the fighters of today are better than the ones of yesterday and the ones of the next generation will be better than the ones that we have today because like [Newton] said, 'If I was able to see further than my predecessors, it's because I'm standing on the shoulders of giants.' They already start with a head start. It's the same thing, and that's why the performance and sport gets better.

"That's why Usain Bolt runs faster than Jesse Owens. Maybe he's not really better, but he has access to more knowledge and more technology. Therefore, he had a head start on Jesse Owens. The same thing in combat sports. The only difference is we don't have any instrument to measure the performance. It's always subjective. 'Oh, (Mike) Tyson is better than Muhammad Ali. This guy is better than this guy.' The truth is there are some guys that could last long, but time will catch up to you sooner or later. You can't stop that progress. Things get better over time, and as good as they are today, the best fighter of all time? The real GOAT might not even be born yet."

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