Georges St-Pierre, regarded as one of the top MMA fighters of all-time, has confirmed his retirement from combat sports. The former UFC welterweight champion made the announcement during a special press conference Thursday.

"It takes a lot of discipline to become and stay champion. It also takes a lot of discipline to stop while still feeling that you're in the best physical and mental shape of your life but I've always planned to leave the sport when I'm at the top and in good health," St-Pierre said. "I want to thank my family, my fans, my coaches, trainers and training partners, my sponsors and my agents for their indefectible support during all these years. I will forever be grateful for the work of Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, as well as Dana White and all UFC employees for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills before the world, from UFC 46 to UFC 217.

"I also want to thank each of my opponents. All of them are incredible athletes who brought out the best in me. I retire from competition with great pride at having had a positive impact on my sport. I intend to keep training and practicing martial arts for as long as I live and I look forward to watching the new generation of champions carry our sport into the future."

St-Pierre set the record for UFC welterweight title defenses, posting a 26-2 overall mark. That included becoming just the fourth fighter to win gold in multiple weight classes when he returned and bested Michael Bisping for the middleweight title in 2017.

"Georges has cemented his legacy as one of the pound-for-pound greatest fighters ever," UFC President Dana White said. "He beat all the top guys during his welterweight title reign and even went up a weight class to win the middleweight championship. He spent years as one of the biggest names in MMA and remains one of the best ambassadors for the sport. He put Canada on the MMA map."

Along with defeating Bisping, St-Pierre also holds wins over the likes of Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, BJ Penn and Josh Koscheck. He avenged both of his career losses to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra with victories.