Although Georges St-Pierre may not be returning to the Octagon anytime soon, he’s not been totally idle.
He took up the role of Batroc the Leaper for the new movie Captain America: Winter Soldier, which pulled in $37 million on Friday and is on pace toward a $90 million weekend, according to Chris Barton of the Los Angeles Times.
As seen in the video from Jesse Holland of MMA Mania, St-Pierre utilizes a few recognizable MMA movements, but he doesn’t go for any takedowns in the preview clip of his fight with Captain America. Still, given the early numbers, this is easily the biggest break in GSP's post-Octagon career.
If nothing else, it serves as a pleasing distraction while Johny Hendricks readies for the first defense of the welterweight title that St-Pierre gave up after defeating "Bigg Rigg" at UFC 167.
For fans of the Marvel Universe, the casting of St-Pierre as Batroc is inspired. Although portrayed in the comics as a kind of cliche Frenchman, complete with an absurd mustache, Batroc was a close match for Captain America in a physical confrontation.
Given that St-Pierre speaks French and is an actual fighter, he brings a kind of gravitas to the role that is not often seen in action movies.
Obviously, he is not the main villain in the movie and thus has limited screen time, but as the clip shows, his physical presence and abilities translate well to the silver screen. Now, if St-Pierre can talk Hollywood into banning those ridiculous leg sweeps from all future fight scenes, we could all be happy.
In the meantime, while St-Pierre’s time in a new spotlight (oblique as it may be) begins, MMA fans are left to wonder if he will ever return to real competition.
Back in early February, one of St-Pierre’s boxing coaches, the famed Freddy Roach, spoke on the topic. He said that if St-Pierre doesn’t return by the end of 2014, he should stay retired, per Jesse Holland at MMA Mania.com:
He told me he wanted to take two years off and I told him two years was retirement. Let’s stick with one year right now and see how you feel and if you feel hungry enough to get back in there, we’ll do it. If not, we’ll call it a day. He has headaches and so forth. You don’t want to hear that.
Now, St-Pierre is scheduled to undergo knee surgery this coming week as reported by Ariel Helwani on Wednesday night’s edition of UFC Tonight (h/t MMA Fighting). Given that he has no ongoing commitments, he could take his time during the rehabilitation stage of his recovery, thus postponing any decisions about a return until after 2014.
Will his recovery also see him find his desire to compete in the world of professional MMA once again, or will he continue to pursue outside interests?
It is rare for professional fighters who have achieved as much as St-Pierre to walk away from their competitive natures for long. For every fighter who has done so, such as Marvin Hagler, scores of others simply found they were not suited to the quiet life of retirement.
Should St-Pierre decide to stay away from MMA, no one can deny that his accomplishments will merit him an induction in the UFC Hall of Fame, and rightfully so.
But if he decides to come back, it should be sooner rather than later. The longer a fighter sits on the shelf, the harder it is to regain the edge that was once taken for granted.
Whatever he decides, we will always remember his reign as champion, and for a very long time, all future champions will be compared to him, whether his detractors like it or not. He is the longest-reigning welterweight champion in UFC history and one of the most dominant champions of any weight class.
And that is a legacy anyone can be proud of.
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