Former UFC champ Georges St-Pierre admits OCD led to break from sport


Former UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre continues to shed more light on his decision to step away from the sport at the height of his reign.

While promoting a biographical documentary, “Takedown: The DNA of GSP,” the 32-year-old French-Canadian told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and took his leave based on its complications.

“As a competitor (and) as a fighter it’s a good thing to have it, because it makes you better, because you completely obsess about being a better martial artist,” he told CBC. “Every day, everything you do is oriented toward that goal.

“This same obsession about my work, about my job, to make me better, it was going to drive me crazy. That’s why I took that break. I don’t call it a retirement, because I don’t know if it will be, but I had to step outside the competition for a while.”

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that often produces repetitive or compulsive behaviors aimed at calming fears or worries. Some symptoms for OCD sufferers include frequently washing their hands, locking and unlocking doors, or maintaining other rituals to help them function.

The disorder, which is treatable with anti-depressants and therapy, is estimated to effect between 1 and 2 percent of the population and affects men and women equally.

St-Pierre didn’t mention OCD when he announced his hiatus following a split-decision win over Johny Hendricks in the headliner of this past November’s UFC 167, but instead said he was “going crazy” and couldn’t sleep over personal problems he needed to work out.

The win over Hendricks was St-Pierre’s ninth title defense as welterweight champion. This past December, he made his hiatus official and vacated his belt, which is up for grabs when Hendricks meets Robbie Lawler at next month’s UFC 171.

St-Pierre’s longtime trainer, Firas Zahabi, recently told MMAjunkie Radio that St-Pierre’s attention to detail and extreme training regimen was to blame for a burnout that led him toward a break.

The former champ said it was the business of MMA that wore him out. Pressure, fans’ expectations, and an endless line of opponents, and scant personal time all contributed to his obsessive behavior, he told the CBC.

“So I had to step out to keep my mental health,” he said.

St-Pierre said he’s now doing better and celebrated his first uninterrupted holiday since becoming a UFC star. As for when, and if, he would return, he said there are conditions he believes must be met before he steps back into the octagon.

This past month, he made headlines by announcing his decision to vacate his title was informed by the UFC’s stance on drug testing, or lack thereof. He called for increased testing and said the sport is infested with performance-enhancing drugs.

St-Pierre said the industry-leader’s stance on testing will play a part in whether he decides to fight again.

“If I come back, I think there are going to have to be some changes made,” St-Pierre said. “Different changes. On the drugs and a lot of things. A lot of things in my life, also. If I ever come back, it’s going to be for the love of competition.”