Georges St-Pierre recalls surviving close encounter with silverback gorilla

Georges St-Pierre faced the best of the best in his fighting career, but there was one opponent he wanted no part of.

“GSP” is well known for his interests outside of MMA, and it was during a trip to Rwanda that the former two-division UFC champion had a close encounter with a fearsome creature, the infamous silverback gorilla. To survive the encounter, St-Pierre had only one option: Submit.

“I have a funny story,” St-Pierre said on the Pound 4 Pound podcast. “I actually got chased by a silverback gorilla. I was in Rwanda, I did gorilla trekking and we had a guide that was with us. He’s with the same family of gorilla every day and he told us the rules. So if a gorilla looks at you, a silverback, you don’t look at him. You don’t eat in front of him, you don’t take flash photo. And if he comes toward you, don’t run away, just get out of the way and make yourself in a submissive pose, and that’s what happened. He looked at me, he went toward me, and I get out of the way and I put my knees on the floor like this, and I was like, ‘Please, please.’

“When you see a gorilla [on TV] and when you see one live, it’s very different. I could see his muscle definition through the fur. I was like, ‘S***.’ He looked under his arm and then the guide gave me the hand and kind of rescued me, but it was just a test. He told me the reason why [the gorilla] turned his back to me, it was because he wanted to show me how much not of a threat I am for him. I’m going to give you my most vulnerable position to show you that you can do nothing. It’s very, very smart.”

St-Pierre compiled a 20-2 record during his time with the UFC, winning 12 welterweight title fights, capturing the middleweight belt in his comeback fight in 2017, and earning victories against a laundry list of legends, including Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, Michael Bisping, Nick Diaz, and Carlos Condit. But on this day, he wisely chose to avoid a fight with an animal that seemed content to toy with him.

Back in 2018, St-Pierre shared video of himself following an encounter with a gorilla, though it’s unclear if that is the incident he’s referring to in this interview.

St-Pierre’s passion and respect for wildlife extended into his in-cage life apparently. He explained how studying the movement of a snake served as inspiration for his striking.

“My jab is based on a snake,” St-Pierre said. “The snake folds itself in to create a false feeling of security of his prey, so his prey doesn’t know, it thinks it’s safe, but it folds itself and then it launches. It’s like my jab. I fold myself in. [St-Pierre mimes throwing jab.] So I create a false feeling of security to my opponent. It’s an illusion. You think I cannot touch you, but I go ‘ding’ and I touch you.”

Now, St-Pierre is able to share a laugh about the terrifying experience with Pound 4 Pound hosts Henry Cejudo and Kamaru Usman, and he even encouraged the former UFC champions to go on their own gorilla trek someday both for the experience and to fund wildlife preservation.

Cejudo said that he would only consider it under one condition: “If I go with Georges.”

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