The UFC world was rocked this week by the announcement of itís 6 year reigning Welterweight Champion, George St. Pierre stepping away from the sport. GSP wil give up his title and leave the organization indefinitely he told the media on Friday but did not refer to the break as retiring, leaving the option open for a possible return.
ďOne day when I feel like it, I might come back,ĒSt-Pierre said. ďBut right now I need a breakĒ. ďI donít want to make nobody wait. I want to come back when I feel like it. Iíll become stronger when I will. It has to be up to me. It has to be on my termsĒ, he told Fox News.
Itís been said that GSPís life had been consuming him. The pressures of the constant competition, which consumes him daily is a huge factor but what GSP is referring to as ďpersonal issuesĒ are the main reasons why the fighter is stepping away. St. Pierre who is tight-lipped about his personal life, says his life is a ďzooĒ and that he needs to ďlive a normal life for bit.Ē
There is however, some speculation swirling around from sites such as TMZ that St. Pierreís father has fallen ill and he will spend more time with him minus the pressures of training. Another rumor floating around cyberspace, is that a woman in Canada is claiming to be pregnant by St. Pierre. The 32-year old champion had talked about taking a break dating back to last Fall. Firas Zahabi, head trainer at Tristar Gym, a place like a second home to GSP spoke to The MMA Hour stating:
ďBefore the Hendrickís fight, he had mixed feelings. Right now he has the motiviation to take care of his personal issues. If he doesnít, heís going to end up depressed, alone. The guy has been fighting for too long, missing too many birthdays, too many weddings, too many life experiences.Ē
What Will Come of the Title?
The Welterweight division will press on, Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 on March 15 in Dallas for the title according to UFC president Dana White. He also weighed in on GSP and stepping away saying, ďYou can tell by the way he talks that the issues he deals with outside the Octagon are driving him nuts. Heís obsessing about them and theyíre driving him crazy.Ē
St. Pierre at 32 is one of the most powerful, well rounded fighters in the UFC. He holds a record of 25-2-0 and has built a legacy with his career. Maybe he will return to try and pick up where he left off. Whether he does or not, GSP is satisfied with the career he has built and has become one of the best while doing it. In the MMA world, he will be missed.
You may have seen UFC fighter John Howard demolish Uriah Hall at Fight Night 26 but what you may not know is that heís a Boston native. I got to catch up with the 10 year MMA vet and find out who the real John Howard is, what itís like to be back in the UFC and his take on female fighters.
Shanda: Today I have the pleasure of sitting here with one of Bostonís own - UFCís John ďDoomsdayĒ Howard. John, how are you?
JH: I'm doing great! My life is really interesting right now.
Shanda: You beat Uriah Hall at FN 26 after being under a lot of scrutiny about Hall being better then you. How did you feel after?
JH: Iím feeling good after the fight last week at the TD Garden, Iím feeling great. I shocked the world and I beat this guy (Uriah Hall). I knew all along that he was good but not too much better than me. Maybe the same level at best. Not a future world champion yet. He has a lot more work to do. He gave me a good fight. It WAS a good fight. I feel that I represented Boston well and it was the biggest moment for me to win here in Boston at the Garden and to have all of my fans there. It was awesome I loved it.
Shanda: Now just to clarify for the people who may not know and didnít catch the fightÖyou went up a weight class for this particular fight. How difficult was that for you?
JH: It was a little bit difficult for me. When I left the UFC, Iíd been fighting 185 for a couple of years and I felt good, I felt strong. I wasnít a big 185 but I was a solid 185. Iím not the biggest but I held my weight well. When I walk in the cage when I fight Iím like 200 lbs so Iím not a like a small guy in the weight class. It felt good being at my natural weight and being able to fight at that and I felt strong and good. Weíre gonna see what happens Iím not sure if Iím going to stay at this weight. Not only did I prove to the world that I would be back in the UFC but I went up a weight class and I still beat him which says a lot. So, now Iím at a point where I can fight at both 170 and 185 hopefully the UFC utilizes.
Shanda: A lot of people didnít think you would win this fight? What do you have to say to critics who doubted your fighting skills over Uriah Hall?
JH: Umm, I think heís good. I think because of the media that he is overrated. I didnít think I was better than him or that he was better than me. Heís a really good striker but I think that the level of the playing field was even. That night I was just a better fighter.
Shanda: Ok. Letís go back just a little. Now you were out of the UFC for a short time. How does it feel to back?
JH: Awesome! Itís unbelievable I canít believe Iím back. Thank God! Thank you UFC, thank you Dana White and all the UFC staff. I was just happy to be on the Boston card, itís a dream come true. Iím just so excited.
Shanda: The City is too, it was great to actually have a Boston fighter representing the city in this major fight here at the Garden. So, you had a little time off. What did you use the time for? Did you use it to reflect or just take a break from fighting?
JH: I went back to my basics. What happened was, I was a wild fighter and I didnít have great technique and I should have. So, I went back to work on technique and I still have the power but now I have more skill. Iím a lot stronger now and have better focus. So, the time off just made me re-focus and get back to basics and thatís what I did and from there I got a call from the UFC to come back.
Shanda: Cool! How did your return to the UFC materialize?
JH: What happened was, there was an opponent that Uriah Hall had and he got injured and because of that he was pulled out of the fight and I was pulled in. It was awesome! They gave me a call and asked if I was ready to fight and I said ďYeah, letís do itĒ! So I took the opportunity and jumped on it and now Iím back!
Shanda: Since youíve been out of the UFC, there have been a few changes. Itís become more popular for women to fight in the UFC. How do you personally feel about women fighting in the UFC?
JH: Itís awesome! I believe in equal rights and Iím proud to see women fight. In my opinion, women make better fights. They take pain better than men. They perform unbelievably. Every female fight Iíve seen has been great. So, itís awesome. Youíre gonna see a lot of women performing high caliber fighting within the UFC. Itís gonna be amazing.
Shanda: Whoís your favorite female fighter right now?
JH: Iím gonna say Rhonda Rousey. Rhondaís awesome.
Shanda: Yes, she is! That would be great to get a womenís fight here in Boston.
JH: That would be amazing!
Shanda: Speaking of Boston, it was an honor to have the UFC fight here in the cityÖHow did you feel about being able to fight in your own city?
JH: Awesome. Itís the opportunity of a lifetime. Iíve been to the Garden a few times to see the Celtics, the Bruins play. What ppl donít understand is that most of these athletes are not from Boston but Iím from Boston, born and raised. I got to perform at the TD Garden. I still call it the Boston Garden because thatís what it was when I was growing up. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to say youíre from Boston and getting to perform in the Garden. Itís a dream come true, Iím so happy.
Shanda: It was a tough time for many of us here during Marathon Monday, what does this fight mean to you, for you to be able to represent your city?
JH: It means a lot. I want to definitely to be a here for my city. I couldnít wait to be a part of this.
Shanda: Weíve talked a little about UFC fighter ďDoomsdayĒ but letís talk a little bit about John Howard. Oustide of the UFC, what is it that John Howard likes to do in his spare time.
JH: John Howard likes to play video games. Tekken, Call of Duty. He likes to dance in nightclubs. Iím really just a simple guy. I really like to have fun. Iím laid back. Also, John Howard loves to ride bikes now, so any bike sponsorships out thereÖhook it up! (laughs)
JH: Street bikes. Motorcycles. That kind of thing.
Shanda: I donít know John Howard seems like he likes to race (laughs)
JH: (Laughs) I used to but not anymore. Iím too old to do that now, I have kids to take care of and I canít do that. They need a father around to take care of them but I love my girls and taking care of them and thatís about it. Iím happy, life is turning around for me right now.
Shanda: How long have you been fighting MMA?
JH: 10 years, itíll be 11 in a couple of months.
Shanda: Do you have any advice who wants to fight MMA?
JH: My advice is, keep training hard. Go for the gold, donít listen who says you canít do
it. Believe in yourself. Iím coming from a place where no one thought that a kid from Dorchester would make it in the UFC world and I did. I came from nothing and made something out of it, so keep training hard, believe in yourself and if you really want it just be ready. Always be ready because you never know when youíll get a phone call.
Shanda: Alright, those are great words. Now whatís next for Doomsday? What do you see for yourself in the next 5 years?
JH: Hopefully in 5Öwell Iíll say about 2 or 3 years Iíll get a title shot, so I can bring a gold back to Boston. Thatís my goal.
Shanda: Where can people find you on social media?
JH: @Johndoomsday (twitter) John doomsday howard (IG) John Howard (FB). Iím usually really easy to get to. I respond back to my fans myself all of the time. I donít have anyone running my social networks for me, I do it. So hit me up!
Shanda: Great! Do you want to thank anyone or send a shout out?
JH: Iíd like to thank Boston, Massachusetts, the UFC, Dana White Joes Siliva, Wai Cru, Proathlete, Scott Reems, thank you all so much. All of my corner, my teammates, thanks for everything. Boston Strong! Here comes the DOOM!